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PUC adopts expanded weather rules

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Special to the Polk
County Enterprise

AUSTIN — The Public Utility Commission of Texas recently adopted expanded weather preparation rules for electricity generators and transmission utilities to ensure grid reliability during both summer and winter weather events. 

The expanded rules build on the successful implementation of the winter weather preparation requirements adopted by the PUCT in November 2021 and add new summer weather preparation requirements to begin in June 2023.

“Reliability drives every decision we make when it comes to grid operations,” said Public Utility Commission Chairman Peter Lake. “The grid has to be ready for any weather condition, from extreme heat to extreme cold. These rules take that into account by setting the baseline preparation requirements for an operator at some of the most extreme weather conditions this state has experienced and requiring the operator to prepare their generation resources and transmission facilities to be able to operate in those conditions.”

In addition to extending current winter weather preparation requirements into the future, the rule adopts specific temperature standards for ten geographically distinct areas of the state and establishes minimum and maximum temperatures at which owners of electric generation and transmission entities need to prepare their facilities to be able to operate. These temperature standards go into effect in 2023.

The expanded rule also removes the special exemption process adopted last year for utilities that could not meet mandatory preparation deadlines due to supply chain issues or other acceptable reasons. 

Finally, the new rule requires the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the grid operator for about 90 percent of the state, to deliver a weather study that examines several weather parameters that can have negative impacts on the reliable operation of the electric grid. The rule requires ERCOT to update this study at least every five years to account for variability in weather patterns over time.

The 2021 weather preparation rules already in place as part of reliability reforms passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott require electricity generators to winterize their facilities against extreme cold weather. 

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