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Politico: FERC Ready to Take Action on Texas Power Crisis

Posted by Eric Wolff on Mar 3, 2021

Politico outlined FERC’s options for preventing future grid failure in Texas following the February winter blackout, quoting AEE’s Jeff Dennis on Chairman Glick’s expected course of action. Read excerpts below and the full story here (sub req).

Texas' second major power failures in a decade could spur FERC to take the rare step of ordering new reliability standards, experts say.Despite FERC's limited authority in Texas, federal regulators could direct the North American Electric Reliability Corp. to develop those standards to force the state to mitigate the risks caused by extreme winter weather. And the commissioners could rely on their convening power to draw attention to the shortcomings in Texas to push state regulators to take stronger measures to protect the grid after the February freeze that left 4.4 million Texans without power for days and triggering comparisons to the 2011 cold snap that also caused massive generation failures… 

"Chairman Glick is signaling that he's open to ordering NERC to develop a standard on generators' winterization," said Jeff Dennis, general counsel for Advanced Energy Economy, a clean energy advocate and a former adviser to FERC during the 2011 crisis. "That was shown a gap in the reliability standards in the 2011 report. No state has standards. There are no regional standards. He's been signaling early on, he's been looking at that gap."

FERC and NERC promised an investigation last month even before the lights in Texas were back on. Although the Federal Power Act prevents the commission from touching Texas' isolated market for power sales, it does give FERC the authority to order NERC — which is run by the power industry to develop standards — to make new reliability rules mandatory, rather than voluntary as the 2011 report was…

"I am prepared, if necessary, to support the imposition of new mandatory standards to make sure that electric generators and others are better prepared when weather strikes the next time," [Glick] said during an open meeting [in February]…

Congress can also provide more long-term solutions. President Joe Biden's much-anticipated infrastructure bill is expected to include funding to promote transmission construction that could help relieve bottlenecks in Texas. And Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) plans to introduce a bill this month that would require federal funds be available to help southern states, which are typically ill-prepared for snow and cold weather, to winterize their power infrastructure.

Read the full story here (sub req).


Topics: AEE In The News