New Power Grid Standards for Cold Weather
On Thursday, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved new standards for electrical grid reliability during extreme cold weather, acting on recommendations from an inquiry into February 2021's deadly freeze in Texas.
The freeze, also dubbed winter storm Uri, killed more than 200 people, left around 4.5 million Texas homes and businesses without power and heat, and "led to the largest controlled firm load shed event in U.S. history," it said. Firm load shedding occurs when the delivery of electricity is discontinued for some customers due to demand exceeding supply.
FERC said that under the new rules, generator owners will have to take steps to prevent freezing and get their staff and most important equipment ready for extreme cold and grid emergencies.
The standards were proposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) in October last year, following its joint inquiry report with FERC and other regional entities issued in late 2021.
FERC also directed NERC to streamline the standards and monitor their implementation while developing more standards from the 2021 report.
That report stated that the Texas electric grid could still suffer outages in a winter deep freeze due to a massive shortfall in generating capacity, a view echoed by the Dallas Federal Reserve last month.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas adopted a new market design for the state's electric grid in January that will see power plants getting paid to be on standby, but the plan remains under scrutiny from state legislators.
Last year, FERC opened a joint inquiry into the power outages for more than 1.5 million people caused by extreme weather during winter storm Elliott in late December.