ERCOT report finds widespread winter weather readiness

February's winter storm created an unprecedented event for Texas. Temperatures stayed below freezing, and millions of people were without power and water for days.

Those effects were outlined at Friday's ERCOT board meeting.

"In Dallas and Austin we were continuously at or below freezing for seven days straight," said Betty Day, vice-president of security and compliance for ERCOT.

ERCOT also addressed updates. It filed its compliance report with the Public Utility Commission. There was a Dec.1 deadline for plants to winterize. Ninety-eight percent of the 847 generation resources met the deadline to provide info on their winterization efforts.

"I think we are in better shape for this winter, I don’t think that means there is no chance of outages. There is still a chance if we get weather like we had last February," said Doug Lewin, energy consultant and president of Stoic Energy.

The PUC has already begun enforcement on the few companies that did not meet the deadline. ERCOT also outlined changes they've made, such as funding for weatherization, and more inspections being done. Another big note, natural gas plants now being identified as critical infrastructure.

"The rule they passed, required 70-80 percent of gas supply, they must now register as crucial infrastructure, but they don’t have to weatherize," said Lewin.

There is the vulnerability for problems in the future, Lewin believes. But he is glad ERCOT is taking some steps to prepare for the worst. Would the state be adequately prepared if another system with the same weather came?

"No, I think we should feel confident we won’t be four days without power. But I think if we got the exact same weather there would be outages, and people ought to be prepared for that.

Lewin feels the outages wouldn’t be as big and widespread, but if severe winter weather came, people should be prepared.

For the companies that did not comply by the Dec. 1 deadline, those owners did request a "good cause" exception with ERCOT, which said it doesn't have any reason to believe those companies will not be winterized and prepared.

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