The Texas Legislature mandated the new reports as part of its response to the February winter storm emergency.
By failing to file winter weather reports by a deadline this month, eight Texas electric generation companies could face millions of dollars in fines.
That’s the word from the Texas Public Utility Commission, which announced December 8 that it has filed administrative “reports of violation” against BT Cooke Solar, Bull Creek Wind, Cotton Plains Wind, Lamesa Solar, Midway Solar, OCI Alamo, Shell Oil Company and Texas Big Spring LP. The companies have 20 days to respond, and could face up to $7.5 million in fines, according to reports.
The generating resources collectively have the ability to generate 801 megawatts of electricity — or less than 1 percent of the statewide total of installed capacity. The mandatory winter readiness reports were due on December 1.
“Texans expect the power plants in our state to be better prepared for winter weather,” said PUC Executive Director Thomas Gleeson. “The Governor and Legislature provided us the tools to improve the stability of our grid and our commissioners have been abundantly clear that they expect generation entities to get ready for this winter. The PUCT cannot tolerate the failure of these companies to even file their readiness reports.”
The Texas Legislature mandated the new reports as part of its response to the February winter storm emergency that led to more than 200 deaths and cut power for more than 4 million. However, the weather readiness reports in themselves will not guarantee that a company has taken appropriate steps to weatherize — only subsequent inspections will verify that.
The organization conducting those inspections is the state’s primary grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. During a December 8 press conference, ERCOT CEO Brad Jones said the organization aims to have inspected 300 generating units and 21 electricity transmission providers by the end of the month. That would comprise roughly 85 percent of the electric capacity lost during the peak of the winter storm.
During a joint press conference on December 8, Jones and PUC Chairman Peter Lake also enumerated a number of other actions taken to improve grid reliability this winter.
- ERCOT has changed how it deploys its Emergency Response Service, which is a service the organization uses to encourage large electric consumers to curtail consumption during emergencies. ERCOT now can deploy ERS prior to declaring an emergency alert.
- The PUC has lowered the High Systemwide Offer Cap, or “HCAP,” from $9,000 per mWh to $5,000. The HCAP represents a price limit on electricity offers in the ERCOT administered wholesale power market.
- Along with the Railroad Commission of Texas, the PUC has adopted rules related to the designation of natural gas facilities as critical for operations of the power grid.
- The Texas Energy Reliability Council, led by the Texas Division of Emergency Management, is enhancing communication and planning between state agencies, the electric industry and natural gas industry.
For more details about these and related regulatory actions, see the articles here and here.