Deadly 2021 winter storm data ignored in new ERCOT power grid market report model

AUSTIN – Texas lawmakers are ordering changes to the state’s electricity market in response to power outages during the severe February 2021 winter storm that contributed to the deadly disaster.

But some experts are disturbed that the weather conditions around the grid that are close to collapse were not considered in the government report released Thursday that could be pivotal in restructuring how power plants and utilities buy and sell electricity in Texas.

The Public Utilities Commission, Texas’ energy regulator, commissioned the report in May from E3 consulting company. The report evaluates several proposed market designs to move Texas away from the current deregulated energy market that PUC Chairman Peter Lake has called a “crisis-based market.”

In its analysis of peak energy demand in winter, the report looked at weather data from 1980 to 2019.

You could be paying for years for our electrical failures. It should not be like that

Using data from the winter storm was “beyond the scope of this study,” the report said in a methodology explanation that recommended grid operator ERCOT include the 2021 freeze, which killed more than 200, in future analyses.

A large power transmission line crosses SH 287 in South Arlington, Wednesday,…
A large power transmission line crosses SH 287 in South Arlington, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. A rolling power outage disrupted service to customers after a blizzard and deep freeze. State officials are still working on a solution as of November 2022, and the Legislature hopes to revisit the issue in 2023. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

The report also does not include this year’s data summer heat wave where the statewide power demand record was broken several times and led to ERCOT issuing warnings for conservation several times.

“It ignores real life, extreme weather, and the fact that the weather can get worse,” said Alison Silverstein, an energy consultant who previously worked with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Public Utilities Commission. “These are new extreme weather conditions that are stressing the grid.”

The report says it was ignored winter storm 2021 because the Public Utilities Commission has taken action since then to improve power plant durability.

2021 sees some big changes to the Texas power grid after a winter freeze

“… [T]The Consulting Team does not expect the same level of outages to be observed in similar weather conditions due to improvements made by the PUCT, such as weather regulations and robust fuel procurement,” the report said, referring to the new requirements for extreme weather. on-site reserve fuel readiness and incentives.

Lake, the commission’s chair, said consultants realize there is no “silver bullet” for dealing with extreme winter weather events like the 2021 storm.

“An array of other reforms we have put in place – everything from winterization to better coordination with the natural gas industry to a new natural gas supply chain – combined will mitigate the impact of future Uri-like events,” said Lake about the storm. .

The report recommends Texas pursue a market structure similar to the capacity market, which pays power producers even when their generators are offline to subsidize their operations and maintain an adequate supply of electricity during peak demand and emergencies.

But the Public Utilities Commission has indicated it wants to pursue a different structure, which it calls a “Performance Credit Mechanism,” which is a hybrid between the preferred proposal and a deregulated market, according to a staff memo.

“It’s interesting to see the PUC go against the recommendations of the consultants,” said Austin-based energy consultant Doug Lewin.

The ins and outs of the performance credit mechanism will be debated for the next two months.

Lake said he aims to have a new market structure approved before the Legislature begins its next lawmaking session on January 10.

The first winter storm bill advancing in the Texas House tackles weatherization, emergency communications

In the meantime, the public and stakeholders will have until noon, December 15, to submit comments on the proposal.

“Once we receive all of those comments, our staff, our commissioners will analyze all of that, take that feedback and listen to what the public thinks, what’s not working, and adjust the course if necessary,” Lake said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *