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    ERCOT says Texas power grid 'more prepared' for winter weather as freeze approaches

    January 19, 2022 - Ariana Garcia, Houston Chronicle


      Jan. 19—The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) says the electrical grid is more ready than ever for winter weather, a claim that will be put to the test later this week as the state prepares for freezing temperatures. A final weatherization report filed Wednesday with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, shows 321 out of 324 electric generation units and transmission facilities have fully passed inspection to meet new regulations.

      "The Texas electric grid is more prepared for winter operations than ever before," said Interim CEO Brad Jones in a Tuesday news release. The report comes as the Lone Star State braces for freezing weather. The Houston area is expected to get a "wintry mix" of rain, freezing rain and sleet as temperatures drop across the region Thursday afternoon and evening.

      At the end of December, ERCOT officials announced they inspected 302 units throughout the state — which makes up 85 percent of the capacity lost in outages during last year's February winter storm — as well as 22 transmission station facilities. Three units, which represent 0.4 percent of ERCOT's generation fleet, have been identified for further review due to remaining deficiencies but remain operational, officials said.

      "We are confident these 321 inspected facilities either meet or go beyond the new requirements from the commission and we will continue to work with the other three facilitates to ensure they correct remaining deficiencies," said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT vice president of system planning and weatherization, in the release. "Our team spent thousands of hours preparing for and conducting these 324 on-site inspections to ensure the electric grid is prepared for winter."

      The commission will determine any potential enforcement actions resulting from the inspections, officials said. The inspections follow new winterization requirements following the devastating Winter Storm Uri of February, 2021 that resulted in hundreds of deaths and left millions without power for days. The state legislature in June increased the maximum penalty for violating weatherization rules to $1 million per day, per violation.

      Earlier this month, state officials attributed 36 more deaths to Winter Storm Uri, bringing the state's official estimated death toll to 246. Of those deaths, the report classifies 148 as "indirectly" caused by the storm, 92 as "direct," and six as "possibly attributable" to the storm.


      (c)2022 the Houston Chronicle

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