ERCOT, PUC discuss operational changes to Texas power grid ahead of hottest days of summer

HOUSTON – Texans were updated on the improvement of the power grid - how officials will ensure grid reliability as the hottest days of summer approach.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Public Utility Commission held a 10 a.m. conference where PUC Chairman Peter Lake and ERCOT Interim President/CEO Brad Jones discussed the upcoming changes their organizations are making.

Over the past several months, the grid has come into question since February’s winter storm where millions of Texans were left without electricity. In May, ERCOT announced the state is expected to reach a new record for electricity demand this summer. ERCOT reported Texans are expected to hit a peak demand of 77,143 MW this summer, which outpaces the previous record of 74,820 set in 2019. For comparison, 1 MW equals 200 homes.

Lake said the three key things are stabilizing the grid for summer, redesigning the market for the future and setting expectations for the remainder of the summer.

“Texans demand and deserve a reliable grid and that’s our top priority,” he said.

Lake said PUC has 30 making-rule projects on the way to meet the governor and legislature’s request for improvement in their operations.

According to Lake, here’s how the companies are stabilizing the grid for the summer:

- Fixed several problems that have plagued them in the past, relating to extraordinary cost during emergencies and uncertainty with pricing rules during emergencies.

- PUC has directed ERCOT to first improve the margin of safety on the grid and, second, ERCOT is being directed to operate with an abundance of caution by having no room for error and asked for ERCOT to manage the grid accordingly.

Jones said ERCOT has developed a plan called the “Roadmap to Improving Grid Reliability,” saying the roadmap is significant and deep. He said ERCOT’s focus on completing the roadmap was operating in a more reliable manner than ever before, bringing more generations across the peak to be able to meet all needs of Texans to keep the grid reliable, buying more services than they have in the past, releasing them quicker to the market and calling on conservation when necessary.

READ: ERCOT unveils its plan to tackle improvements to state’s power grid. Here’s what’s in it.

He said ERCOT has completed 22 out of the 66 initiatives so far.

Lake said in June, ERCOT called on as much generation compared to the past to help conserve the grid and enhance reliability. He explained the expectations PUC has for the rest of the summer, saying they are embarking on once-in-a-generation reforms.

Jones said that next week, Texas is expected to experience very high heat as well as a high load of expectation, which could reach an all-time high for ERCOT.

“We expect to have an efficient amount of generation to serve all Texans,” Jones said.

“It’s going to be tight for the rest of the summer - we all know the heat is coming, but we’re ready for it,” Lake said. “In the meantime, we will be redesigning the ERCOT Market for the future so Texas has a grid that reliably delivers affordable power.”

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