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The Houston Chornicle writes:

Texas has the only American electricity grid with no rules for resiliency. Instead, the GOP majority argued that a system that pays higher prices when demand goes up would incentivize generators to make sure their systems work during extreme weather. [...]

Another polar vortex almost exactly 10 years ago triggered blackouts. [...] The Legislature appointed another investigative committee in 2012 but ignored the advice to set resiliency standards. Instead, lawmakers concluded Texas electricity customers should pay generators even higher prices. The state Public Utility Commission raised the maximum payment per megawatt hour from $4,500 to $9,000 in a market that normally pays $25. [...]

The Texas Blackout proved that even $9,000 an hour [i.e. per MWh] was not enough to convince companies to weatherize properly. [...]

All other grids are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which requires weatherized pipelines and equipment.

It's easy to confirm from (many) other sources (e.g. Reuters citing the U.S. Energy Information Administration) that grids in other US states are subject to FERC while Texas' isn't, but I'm having trouble finding the FERC regulations that dictate "weatherized pipelines and equipment". This might be because FERC actually delegates its reliability angle to the NERC (seemingly under the EPAct of 2005). So does FERC (or NERC) mandate such "weatherized pipelines and equipment"?


NERC.net says:

Section 215 of the Federal Power Act requires the Electric Reliability Organization to develop mandatory and enforceable Reliability Standards, which are subject to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) review and approval. Commission-approved Reliability Standards become mandatory and enforceable in the U.S. according to the Implementation Plan associated with the Reliability Standard, as approved by the Commission.

But from that page it's not clear to me which of those (rather many) documents are about weatherizing.

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  • There is a question on politics SE that appears to have some insight into this situation. While it doesn't talk about regulation at the federal level it does hint about what is required at the state level in Texas. From what I gather in the accepted answer is that they tend to not follow the regulations when possible and even went as far to get rid of a monitoring agency. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/62656/… – Joe W Feb 21 at 17:25
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According to another, longer piece in the same newspaper (published on the same day), part of the answer is that mandatory winterization rules are still being drafted by the NERC:

Last year, the North American Energy Reliability Corp. began crafting mandatory federal winterization rules for power producers. The process is lengthy, however, and could take months or longer to complete.

This bit can be more easily, albeit only partially confirmed as one can find (2012-issued) guidelines for winterizing published by the NERC; these don't have the weight of a mandatory standard yet, as clearly outlined in their preamble:

Generating Unit Winter Weather Readiness – Current Industry Practices

It is in the public interest for NERC to develop guidelines that are useful for maintaining or enhancing the reliability of the bulk power system (BPS). Reliability Guidelines provide suggested guidance on a particular topic for use by BPS users, owners, and operators according to each entity’s circumstances. Reliability Guidelines are not to be used to provide binding norms, establish mandatory reliability standards, or create parameters by which compliance to standards is monitored or enforced.

(There's a "version 3" of those approved/published in Dec 2020, but otherwise with a similar disclaimer: "their incorporation into industry practices is strictly voluntary".)

It's not totally clear to me though if "weatherizing" in the first Houston Chornicle article could refer to something broader than "winterizing"... It's also not terribly clear if these guidelines are what's intended to become a mandatory standard or if there's some other draft for those.

So I guess what I'm saying here is that the only thing that's easy to confirm is that NERC has had some guidelines (rather than mandatory standards) for winterizing which they have updated over the years. (I'll accept a better answer if someone can at least find some kind of confirmation that NERC intends to make some concrete document into a mandatory standard.)

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