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ERCOT commits to better planning

By on June 2, 2021

first_imgLocal News Pinterest WhatsApp Previous articleCockburn, Dosunmu lead No. 5 Illini past Northwestern 73-66Next articlePandemic politicking: Israel’s election sprint echoes US’s Digital AIM Web Support Pinterest State Rep. Brooks Landgraf reported Tuesday that he and other legislators had just talked with officials of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas who discussed “best case, worst case” scenarios postulating either that the state’s power might be restored immediately, that outages would persist for several more days or that rotating outages would begin leaving customers without power for only an hour at a time. “According to ERCOT, the best case is that most off-line power plants can begin generating in the next few hours and power can be restored to most Texans by this afternoon,” Landgraf said. “The worse case is that most plants will remain off-line and the current situation will persist for several more days. “The likely case is that many plants can begin generating in the next few hours and that ERCOT and transmission owners like Oncor can get on a true cycle, starting this afternoon, of rotating outages that leave customers without power for only an hour at a time. The outages would then be reduced in frequency as more power plants begin generating power again.” During an afternoon news conference, ERCOT officials said the top priority is providing power to customers reliably and said they will beef up plans and make sure widespread outages don’t happen again. CEO Bill Magness went over outages and said losses came from many different types of energy and that prep work started as early as Feb. 8. He said that by Sunday night it was clear that the weather event was much worse than anticipated and that the supply could not keep up with demand. Having criticized ERCOT for its inaccessibility Monday night, Landgraf said, “ERCOT acknowledged that they have failed to communicate with the people of Texas during the last several days and they said they are committed to improving communication as they work with power generators and transmission owners to restore power. I appreciate that acknowledgement and will hold them to their promise.” The Odessa Republican said ERCOT officials told lawmakers that the primary reason for the outages was that generators had been unable to produce electricity onto the grid because of freezing conditions everywhere from turbines and wellheads to power plant facilities and along service lines. “To me, this means that there were also not sufficient plans to ‘winterize’ in critical places that needed to be prepared for these prolonged sub-zero temperatures,” Landgraf said. “Additionally, there is some talk about ‘gouging’ or electricity prices being hiked. I don’t believe this is the time for that and I will be working to make sure that freezing Texans aren’t asked to bear the burden and cost of someone else’s mistakes. “Lastly, Gov. Greg Abbott has just declared ERCOT reform as an emergency item that my colleagues and I in the Texas Legislature can begin working on immediately. I’m ready to do that, including making sure that only Texas residents can serve on the ERCOT board of directors, which is not currently the case. Obviously, other big reforms need to be made as well.” Landgraf had said Monday night that the Austin-based ERCOT, which manages most of the state’s power grid, had failed to plan adequately for the gigantic snow and ice storm that darkened and immobilized the state and that he would help lead a review of its failures after the storm’s severity had been forecast all last week. “Not enough was done by ERCOT to prepare,” said Landgraf, who is participating in the current legislative session in Austin. “This entire situation needs to be reviewed and corrective action is absolutely necessary.” Asked what benefit Gov. Abbott’s deployment of personnel and equipment around the state would be to Odessa and Ector County, Landgraf said, “I’m working to get more information on welfare checks and warming stations.” In a statement to the Odessa American and his constituents, the Odessa Republican said, “You’re cold and frustrated. “My family and I are, too. I’m sorry that our state’s grid has let so many Texans down. You deserve better. If you need to vent, please feel free to vent here. I don’t mind being the piñata without any candy. I’ve been trying to get answers from ERCOT about a timeline for power restoration, but it is difficult getting them. “I believe it’s important to communicate with the public,” Landgraf said. “We would rather get bad news with transparency than no news at all in a situation like this. Based on the answers I have received, this appears to be a perfect storm, literally. The cause was record-breaking demand that coincided with hard freezes at both sources and electricity generating stations.” ERCOT’s members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities, transmission and distribution providers and municipally owned electric utilities, according to its website. “We can all agree that this is a very rare occurrence, but our grid and our state’s policies needed to account for it,” Landgraf said. “I will do my part to exercise that type of oversight. Amid all this frustration, remember that many hard-working grid workers, first responders, healthcare providers and non-profit volunteers are taking care of Texans in need. Please take a moment to appreciate their selfless work and keep them in your prayers.” Abbott on Monday announced his deployment of National Guardsmen across the state to conduct welfare checks and help authorities move people to 135 warming stations. On Sunday, he had gotten a waiver from the U.S. Department of Energy for power generators to increase production, although some were unable to because they were frozen, he said. The governor dispatched 3,300 state troopers to stricken areas along with 90 personnel, 28 high mobility multi-wheeled vehicles, a field light ambulance and four wreckers from the Texas Military Department, 585 personnel, 531 four-wheel drive vehicles, an airplane and nine K-9 teams from the parks and wildlife department, 83 personnel, six roadgraders and 58 four-wheel drive vehicles from the forest service, 2,314 personnel, 695 snowplows, 188 loaders, 55 roadgraders and 757 four-wheel drive vehicles from TxDOT and an ambus, an ambulance strike team and four severe weather groups from the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force. He had previously issued a disaster declaration for all of the state’s 254 counties and had obtained a federal emergency declaration from the Biden Administration. 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