After a series of winter storms, regulators approve new standards for power plants
Standards adopted by FERC include freeze protection steps, better cold weather preparedness plans and requirements to identify freeze-prone equipment
Two years after Winter Storm Uri, which caused a massive power failure in Texas that caused more than 200 deaths, and just two months after another storm, Elliott, forced blackouts in parts of the South, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved new extreme cold reliability standards for power plants.
During Uri, natural gas, coal and nuclear plants, as well as wind turbines, failed to hit their expected output, per a report by the University of Texas at Austin. More than 52,000 megawatts of generation went offline during the event, about 40% of the total capacity in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the electric grid for most of the state. Problems included frozen lines and valves, boiler issues, iced turbine blades and other problems. In 2021, natural gas generation made up more than 50% of ERCOT’s capacity in 2021, with wind about 25%.
The new standards adopted by FERC last week include freeze protection steps, better cold weather preparedness plans, requirements to identify freeze-prone equipment, corrective action for freezing problems, training requirements and other procedures.
But FERC also found “areas for improvement” and directed NERC to “address concerns related to applicability, ambiguity, a lack of objective measures and deadlines and prolonged, indefinite compliance periods.”