Abbott Order Signals Texas Electric Commission to Prevent Another Mass Outage

After February's mass power outage incident in Texas, both Governor Greg Abbott and The Electric Reliability Commission of Texas (ERCOT) have made significant operational changes in order to prevent any more outages.

Just last week, Abbott sent a letter to members of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas urging that several immediate changes be made to ERCOT functional operations. The Electric Reliability Commission controls 90 percent of the state's power, reported KXAN.

The letter directed ERCOT to make significant changes to the way the power grids are operated. Abbott stated, "These strategies, combined with the enhanced enforcement tools provided by the Texas Legislature, will ensure greater stability and reliability of the Texas electric grid."

On Tuesday, ERCOT's Interim President and CEO, Brad Jones, responded with a letter back to the governor, listing out 60 changes the commission has made in order to prevent another incident like the outage in February.

These changes include:

  • Taking a more proactive/aggressive approach to ensure adequate generation supply can meet customer demand.
  • Purchased significantly more reserves compared to this time a year ago.
  • Increased the amount of generation that is running at any given time.
  • Released reserves to meet customer demand quicker.
  • Procured additional reserves whenever there was an uncertain weather forecast.
  • Launched a resource outage report yesterday afternoon that meets the PUC requirement to post the cause of unplanned generation outages within three working days.

You can read all 60 changes here.

The letter concluded, "We have made a lot of progress in recent weeks at ERCOT, but we know there is still much work to be done. All of us at ERCOT share your desire to restore the public's trust in our organization."

These changes are all in massive effort to prevent another power outage like the one in February, after a historic winter storm left millions of Texans cold and in the dark for days. 151 people died due to storm-related conditions, reported KXAN.

ERCOT and Governor Abbott have been under public scrutiny since then, as frustrations over the state's lack of haste in making changes began to build. At least five ERCOT directors resigned following the February incident.

In June, Abbott signed two bills into law that changed the number of ERCOT board members and required power providers on the ERCOT grid to weatherize equipment and communicate better about future outages.

"Bottom line is that everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas," Abbott said in June according to KXAN. Unfortunately though, his announcement was made just before ERCOT released an energy conservation alert, concerned about the rising heat waves.

ERCOT directed Newsweek to a press release, in which Jones is quoted saying, "Change is required for ERCOT to continue to reliably serve the millions of customers and businesses that depend on us."

He added, "We will continue to work very closely with the PUC to ensure we're aligned in these efforts. These changes will benefit all Texans and support continued economic growth for the state of Texas."

Texas Governor Abbott Signs ERCOT Reforms Legislation
AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 08: (L-R) State Rep. Chris Paddie, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and State Senator Kelly Hancock attend a press conference where Abbott signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 at the Capitol on June 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas. New changes to ERCOT's operational system have been listed out to prevent another power outage like the one in February. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images