ERCOT’s recently released “Roadmap to Improving Grid Reliability” presents a plan for change in Texas that includes increasing electric power generation and purchasing significantly more power reserves. The 60-Point Plan comes in response to Governor Abbot’s July 6 directive that the Public Utilities Commission take immediate action to improve electric reliability.
The following changes will undoubtedly require greater levels of planning and engineering expertise for utilities in the region. Among the most impactful actions ERCOT’s plan puts into motion include:
- Assess the potential costs and benefits of increased transmission both internal and external to ERCOT and increase coordination with other power regions.
- Conduct regular review of cyber security plans and defenses to ensure continued electric reliability.
- Adopt a more aggressive and conservative approach to operating the grid. This step will impact outage approval, commitment of resources, conservation alerts and the communication of system risks.
- Require CEO certifications. After a market rule change, all ERCOT market participants that own or operate generation resources and/or transmission/distribution power lines will be required to submit a letter, signed by their CEO, twice each year certifying their companies have completed their weatherization preparations for both the summer and winter seasons.
- Assess on-site fuel supplies. ERCOT is considering the need for assessing on-site fuel supplies for some generators.
- Perform unannounced testing of generation resources. This unannounced testing for over 30 power plants will help verify that generators have provided accurate information about their power production capability and availability.
- Address transmission constraints in the Rio Grande Valley. ERCOT and the PUC are initiating a process to address long standing Rio Grande Valley transmission limitations.
- Provide flexibility to allow additional resources to participate in the ERCOT market to eliminate barriers to distributed generation, energy storage, and demand response technologies.
- Conduct a study to gauge the impact of varying levels of wind and solar penetration on reliability. This study will examine the impact of energy storage and dispatchable energy on system reliability.
How to Prepare for the ERCOT 60-Point Plan
The ERCOT plan is just one example of high impact changes coming to the electric industry. The acceleration of infrastructure development is a likely a key component of the future. Your company may be already considering making new infrastructure investments and applying more conservative assumptions when planning and operating its portion of power system.
TRC closely follows these regulatory pronouncements and understands the challenges utilities face in planning and operating their systems both safely and reliably. An independent, technically well-informed review effort that considers the ever-evolving regulatory framework would be beneficial to your company in this time of change. TRC’s planning and asset management experts can provide an independent review of your company’s planning, asset management and operations processes, the related internal controls, and can suggest thoughtful corrective measures for dealing with system stresses and extreme weather that will become the basis for utility operations in the future.
- ERCOT Roadmap to improving Grid Reliability – July 2021
- July 6 letter from Governor Abbott to the PUCT
Your Trusted Regulatory Advisor
TRC closely follows the national and state regulatory trends in all regions of North America. Our approach to power system planning, design and operations balances solutions that incorporate appropriate industry trends, mandatory standard requirements, regulatory guidance, compliance obligations, best practices, operational goals and budgets. With expertise in both power system planning and operations, we support public utilities and private energy providers to stay ahead of the curve on regulatory trends and the technical aspects of their operations, including related state and federal compliance obligations.
This regulatory update is a service to TRC’s utility clients, helping keep you informed of issues that impact your company’s electric system reliability risks along with related topics regarding regulatory developments to help you achieve your company’s business goals.