Extreme weather conditions have the ability to play havoc with the electric infrastructure of a country. It is important to have policies and rules in place to overcome the challenges that profoundly affect a nation’s preparedness to deliver affordable and reliable electricity to its consumers.
Weather hazards like the Texas Winter Storm Uri, which caused freezing rain and drizzle in North and Central Texas, in February 2021, resulted in a cumulative loss of approximately thirty thousand megawatts of generation resources (both forced and scheduled outages). The storm exceeded the parameters of the seasonal planning done by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). In order to prevent uncontrolled and widespread blackouts ERCOT was forced to shed load.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), initiated two notices of proposed rulemakings (NOPRs), on June 16, 2022, focused on improving the reliability of the bulk power system against the challenges created by extreme weather conditions. These were first proposed by the commission in June 2021, keeping in view Climate Change and incidents like the Texas Storm Uri, as well as increasingly frequent heat waves, cold snaps, storms and droughts.
What do the NOPRs propose
In the first NOPR, FERC wants to modify the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Reliability Standard TLP-001-5.1 (Transmission System Planning Performance Requirements). This NOPR requires transmission providers to address transmission system planning for extreme weather conditions, by collecting information about extreme events.
The commission proposes that NERC should do the following:
Develop a corrective action plan to overcome instances where extreme weather does not allow performance requirements to be met.
The requirement of the second NOPR is to direct transmission providers to submit one-time informational reports stating their policies and processes for conducting weather vulnerability assessments and pointing out mitigation strategies. This information will help FERC better understand the processes and policies followed by transmission providers to identify and mitigate risks to electric infrastructure in extreme weather conditions; and it will ensure that FERC can provide reliable electricity at reasonable rates to its consumers.
Transmission providers will be asked to submit the following information in their reports:
It is important to make assessments and to find solutions for potential risks caused by extreme weather, in a proactive way, rather than making the consumer bear the burden of paying for damaged infrastructure, extremely high rates of electricity, and frequent load shedding.
Comments are due 60 days after the date of publication of each proposal, on the Federal Register.