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Energy expert says Texas power grid may always be a work in progress despite recent improvements

An energy consultant in Austin says even with the improvements already made to the Texas grid, there may never be a time where something doesn't need to be fixed.

AUSTIN, Texas — This month, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the Public Utility Commission started inspecting improvements made by energy suppliers after February's deadly Winter Storm Uri.

In a release Friday, more than a quarter of energy generators in the state made a case for non-compliance. ERCOT and the PUC say those generators requested an exemption in an effort to get more time to make small improvements. Some changes had already been made.

"Having preliminarily reviewed about 70% of the requests, they do not indicate that the plants will be unprepared to operate under extreme weather this winter," the PUC said in a statement Friday.

"There had been improvements made on the power plant side of things, and I think that that's encouraging and everybody should feel good about that," Doug Lewin, CEO of Stoic Energy and an energy consultant, said. "I think that there is still a ways to go on the natural gas supply side of the house... All of those that put together reports in the aftermath of the storm identified gas supply as one of the biggest problems. There is no required weatherization of natural gas supply as of yet."

Lewin listened in on the press conference Wednesday, as well as ERCOT's board meeting Friday. His main takeaway: addressing energy demand, as well as the grid, can still improve.

"There's every reason to believe our demand would be higher [this year]," Lewin said. "So in the winter storm, we had two problems: we didn't have enough supply, and we had really high demand. They're working on bringing the supply up. They haven't done anything to bring that demand down as of yet."

Even if power generators and transmitters make improvements, it may always be a work-in-progress, according to Lewin.

"Honestly, I think that this is probably a decadal kind of an effort and frankly, may never be done," Lewin said. "I'm not sure you could ever reach a point where you say, 'Now, now our system is reliable enough. We're all good.'"


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