ERCOT released the plan in response to a letter from Gov. Abbott that included directives relating to the state’s primary power grid and energy market.
Increasing the amount of electric power generation and purchasing significantly more power reserves are among 60 strategies that ERCOT says it is pursuing to improve reliability of the state’s energy grid.
Included in a plan ERCOT delivered to Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Public Utility Commission last week, the proposed reforms include both those that may take years to implement and others already accomplished. Some proposals represent concrete and specific measures, while other proposals remain more open-ended.
ERCOT released the plan in response to July 6 letter from Gov. Abbott that included a list of directives relating to the state’s primary power grid and energy market. Among the governor’s directives: establish a maintenance schedule for non-renewable electric generators; accelerate the development of transmission projects; and streamline incentives to foster adequate and reliable sources of power, such as natural gas, coal, and nuclear power.
The governor issued those directives against the backdrop of an unexpected power shortfall in June and statewide power outages in February that left 4 million Texans without power. Brad Jones, ERCOT’s CEO, wrote in a response to the governor’s proposals that “all of us at ERCOT share your desire to restore the public’s trust in our organization.”
ROADMAP TO IMPROVING GRID RELIABILITY
The list of new initiatives — designated as ERCOT’s “Roadmap to Improving Grid Reliability” and released on July 13 — include a number significant items.
- Adopt a more aggressive approach to operating the grid. This far-ranging directive will affect outage approval, commitment of resources, conservation alerts and the communication of system risks. It should also affect wholesale prices.
- Requiring CEO certifications. After a rule change, all market participants who own or operate generation resources and/or transmission/distribution power lines will be required to submit a letter signed by their CEO twice a year certifying their companies have completed their weatherization preparations to protect the grid during the summer and winter seasons.
- Adding new requirements for generation owners. ERCOT is proposing a new market rule that requires generators to provide operational updates more frequently.
- Assessing on-site fuel supplies. ERCOT is reviewing the need for on-site fuel supplies for some generators.
- Performing unannounced testing of generation resources. This testing will help verify that generators have provided accurate information about their availability.
- Addressing transmission constraints in Rio Grande Valley. ERCOT and the PUC are initiating a process to address Rio Grande Valley transmission limitations. ERCOT officials have conceded that the Rio Grande Valley has been underserved by transmission for more than 15 years.
- Eliminate barriers to distributed generation, energy storage, and demand response. This will provide flexibility to allow more resources to participate in the ERCOT market.
- Evaluate the adequacy and needed quantity of ancillary services. Ancillary services are categories of standby power that ERCOT procures on a daily basis to help ensure grid reliability. Measures have been taken to increase the amount of ancillary services procured, as well as adding to the existing categories of ancillary services.
- Conduct a study to gauge the impact of varying levels of wind and solar penetration. This will include the impact of energy storage and dispatchable energy.
ERCOT Interim CEO Jones told the PUC last week that the organization already had completed 22 of the 60 listed tasks. He said the organization is making headway on others.
“The plan has been underway for some time,” he said. “We have been gathering ideas from participants in the market. I have reached out to 25 individuals that I had past interaction with: they represent consumers; they represent market participants; they represent former regulators and environmentalists.”
Also known as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT is the state’s primary grid operator and manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers. It likewise schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 710 generation units.
ERCOT officials say it will continue to update the new Roadmap to Improving Grid Reliability throughout the year. You can read the document, here. You can read the governor’s July 6 letter with his list of directives, here
Is a policy analyst consultant for TCAP, a coalition of political subdivisions in Texas that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because energy costs are typically a significant budget item to our members, TCAP is consistently looking for ways to save our members money, through cost-saving contracts, energy efficiency or demand response programs.