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ERCOT says new weatherization standards helped keep the power grid stable during December's extreme cold blast

The power grid manager for the majority of Texas touts response success for the December winter storm but said more can be done.

AUSTIN, Texas — The power grid manager for the majority of Texas said officials are pleased with last month’s winter storm response, even though it wasn’t perfect.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas ( ERCOT) manages 90% of the power grid in Texas. Parts of West Texas, East Texas and the Panhandle are part of the national grid through Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).

Dan Woodfin, ERCOT’s vice president of system operations, told commissioners at the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) that the ERCOT region set a new winter record for how much energy it had available for homes and businesses.

ERCOT did not call for any emergency operations.

“We ordered several units online under the new firm fuel supply service that otherwise would have been unavailable due to gas restrictions in order to maximize the amount of available generation. We also ordered these units to refill their gas storage during the event and, since then, so that they would be available if we needed to deploy them later this winter," Woodfin said in Thursday’s PUC open meeting. 

"We asked TCEQ [Texas Commission on Environmental Quality] for enforcement discretion, an emergency order from the DOE [Department of Energy] – not because we were in an emergency, but to avoid any generating units becoming unavailable due to environmental limits – in order to maximize available generation in the interest of avoiding an emergency," Woodfin continued.


Woodfin said ERCOT found some failures in the system, though.

“There were several units that appeared to tip off due to weather-related issues. And so, our weatherization and inspection team has already begun to investigate those, and we will be sending an RFI [Request for Information] out as under our purview as the reliability entity to look at those units,” Woodfin said.

Woodfin said this shows the importance of implementing Phase Two of the state’s weatherization standards. Those standards are still in development.

ERCOT expects to give a more-detailed report within the next few weeks.

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