ERCOT meets with state regulators to prepare Texas power grid for winter weather

With temperatures reaching the 90s on Friday, it feels more like summer than fall in Central Texas. But, talk of colder temperatures are already happening among energy providers.

The Public Utilities Commission is trying to think one season ahead by hosting a winter preparedness workshop.

Commissioners talked with ERCOT and several energy companies about how ready the state is for freezing weather.

"We all know, Winter Storm Uri kicked off a couple of years back here in 2021, and devastated most of Texas," said Brandon Manley, the senior weatherization analyst for ERCOT.

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More than 200 people died in the 2021 Winter Storm Uri, and millions lost power for days. That's something no Texan wants to live through again.

"We will be ready for this winter season," said Patrick Reinhart, the vice president of regulatory relations and policy at CenterPoint Energy. "We're constantly inspecting our substations and our facilities."

While most of Central Texas enjoyed summer-like temperatures on Friday, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas had its mind on winter.

"We will make sure by December 1, that we are ready for the winter," said Reinhart.

December 1 is the deadline for energy companies to prepare their facilities for winter.

The date comes just before Texas usually sees its first freeze of the season.

"We've currently completed over 2,900 heater checks and 1,200 DGA samples," said Jessica Soos, the director of regulatory services for AEP Texas.

Companies from all over Texas gave an update on their preparations, including ERCOT.

"We have performed winter weatherization inspections under the 20.55 rule for two winter seasons. So 21-22," said Manley. "As well as 22-23. And then we just completed our first summer weatherization inspection."

Manley told commissioners it's ahead of schedule for inspecting 1,300 generation facilities in a three-year period.

"At ERCOT, we have a team of inspectors, and each of these inspectors is very well qualified," said Manley. "They've been working on a lot of this equipment. They've had their hands on this transmission equipment as well as the generation equipment for the majority of their career."

The goal of the workshop is to prevent another major power crisis from happening again.

"The lessons we learned in URI really prompted us to step up our game in the winter readiness," said Roger Morgan, the vice president of planning operations at NRG. "We thought we were really good before. I think now we're much much better, much better off, and we will be ready."