The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has issued a Watch effective through Sunday, Feb. 6 as winter weather moves into Texas. ERCOT is forecasting high energy demand for the duration of the winter weather. This cold front will bring freezing temperatures and precipitation to the ERCOT region. ERCOT is taking action ahead of the expected increase in demand to ensure grid reliability. On Friday, Jan. 28, ERCOT issued an Operating Condition Notice (OCN) to the electricity market for extreme winter weather. ERCOT projects to have sufficient generation to meet the high demand for electricity.
“ERCOT is using all the tools available to manage the grid effectively during this winter weather,” said Interim CEO Brad Jones. “ERCOT will deploy all the resources and aggressively implement the tools available to us to manage the grid reliably during this winter weather. We will continue coordinating closely with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Public Utility Commission, the Railroad Commission and elected officials — as well as electric generators and transmission and distribution utilities — to keep Texans informed throughout the week.”
ERCOT has implemented many reforms to increase the reliability of the Texas grid:
- Inspected generating units and transmission and distribution facilities for weatherization to comply with new PUC requirements. ERCOT has inspected hundreds of electric generation units and transmission facilities and found only 3 with any deficiencies.
- Requiring CEO attestations of weather readiness. A rule change implemented last year requires all market participants who own or operate generation resources and/or transmission/distribution power lines to submit a letter signed by their CEO twice a year certifying their companies have completed their weatherization preparations to protect the electric grid for the summer and winter seasons.
- Taking a more conservative approach to operating the grid. ERCOT’s grid management is at its most aggressive since the market was created two decades ago. ERCOT is increasing operational reserves to ensure adequate generation is available to Texas homes and businesses and is bringing more generation online sooner if it is needed to balance supply and demand. The grid operator is also purchasing more reserve power, especially on days when the weather forecast is uncertain.
- Assessing on-site fuel supplies. ERCOT has assessed the on-site fuel supply for some gas-fired generators.
- Performing unannounced testing of generation resources. This testing helps verify that generators have provided accurate information about their availability.
“While grid conditions remain strong with enough capacity, our weather forecasts show there is potential for significant frozen precipitation behind this week’s cold front,” said Jones. “With frozen precipitation there is always a chance for local outages caused by things like ice on wires or fallen tree limbs. These local outages are not related to the amount of available electricity generated and put on the grid. Texans should contact their utility in the event they experience a localized outage.”