Concerns raised over Public Utility Commission's grid fix plan following 2021 deadly winter freeze

Shelley Childers Image
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Concern over Texas Public Utility Commission's grid fix plan following 2021 deadly winter freeze
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The Public Utility Commission of Texas was tasked with making the state's grid more reliable during extreme weather. Here is why one UH professor isn't confident the plan will work.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Following the deadly winter freeze in February 2021, the Public Utility Commission of Texas was tasked with finding a solution to make the state's grid more reliable during extreme weather.

They hired a consulting firm and came up with a proposal called the Performance Credit Mechanism.

"They're asking retail providers of power, the people you and I buy our electricity from, to enter a contract with the generators that produce power: the wind, the solar, the natural gas, the coal. And they're hoping that that contract will mean that the power will be provided," Victor Flatt, Environment and Energy Law professor at the University of Houston said.

Flatt says he doesn't think this plan will work because it's solely based on market demand.

"I think this plan is bringing a knife to a gun fight," Flatt said.

The professor said it doesn't physically change anything about Texas's grid system, like building more power supply or weatherizing equipment.

But the Texas Competitive Power Advocates, an industry trade group representing power producers across the state like NRG, says if this plan passes, their members will bring new gas generation to the Texas grid, saying in a press release:

"TCPA members stand ready to bring more than 4,500 MW of new dispatchable generation online under the right framework."

Still, Flatt is concerned about the plan the PUC is trying to push forward.

"This proposal wasn't the one that was most recommended by the consultant group, because it's never been tried," Flatt said.

The PUC is taking public comment on their proposed fix through their online portal. The deadline is Thursday at noon.

They anticipate adopting a plan to make the grid more reliable in January and then presenting it to the state legislature.

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