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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

I-Team: Failed communication and 2-page form kept Texans in the cold and dark longer during winter storms

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DALLAS (UKTN) – In order to avoid a complete grid outage during winter storms last month, ERCOT said it had no choice but to order outages.

While millions of Texans lost power, power to hospitals, 911 centers, fire stations and other critical infrastructure remained on. They were protected from failure because they were on the “critical” list.

Gas production facilities that power power plants should have been on this list as well, but many were not.

So when power plants needed natural gas to keep running during the record freeze, many natural gas power plants were helpless – leaving Texans to suffer in the dark and cold.

This is how it went?

State electric utilities that serve deregulated areas (Texas-New Mexico Power, Oncor Electricity, CenterPoint Energy, AEP North, and AEP Central) would have been put on their “hot” lists, all of which the gas producers had to do was fill out a simple form.

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Before the storms, Oncor said it had 35 gas installations on its “critical” list. None of these devices lost power during winter storms.

During the storms, dozens of other gas installations frantically called to restore their electricity. Oncor said that by the end of the week 168 gas installations had been added to the list.

“I’m not pointing fingers, because I’m one of them, but these people need to tell me what’s essential so that I can continue,” Oncor CEO Allen Nye told state lawmakers in his testimony after the storms.

However, Texas gas suppliers said it was an oversimplification and unfairness of the problem.

“If it were really that simple, I don’t think the circumstances would ever have happened,” said Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association.

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Staples said what electric utility providers failed to tell lawmakers was that the short form currently posted on ERCOT’s website was not available before the storms. It was recently updated.

Staples said the old form available before the storm lacked clarity and promotion.

He said that many gas installations were unclear whether they were even eligible to be on the hotlist based on the language of the old form, which is why, he said, many do not. ‘have never fulfilled.

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“I think that’s a real sign of the lack of communication,” Staples said.

This lack of communication whose power must be maintained during spinning failures is not new.

After the Texas winter storm in 2011, a federal report noted that Texas gas producers “should identify the parts of their systems that are critical.”

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A year later, in 2012, Texas established the Energy Insurance Plan.

The plan called on the two state agencies, the Public Utilities Commission and the Railways Commission, to work together to “ensure that no gas installation essential to power generation suffers rotating outages.” “.

Yet nearly a decade after those warnings, that’s exactly what happened. State agencies failed to communicate and Texans suffered the consequences.

Staples said the state needs to have a mapping system so everyone is clear what gas and other critical infrastructure needs to be powered.

On Monday, March 29, the Texas Senate passed SB 3, which includes substantive reforms that lawmakers say will ensure the stability of the Texas grid for decades to come.

One of these reforms requires mapping the electricity supply chain.


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