ERCOT gives final winterization report with first real test expected later this week

In the fallout of the deep freeze last February in Texas, winterization is now mandatory for power generators. 

On Tuesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas gave its final winterization report. 

The power grid operator says 321 out of 324 electric generation units and transmission facilities passed inspection. 

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Bud Weinstein is a retired associate director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute.

"I think it will make a difference, but we also need to keep in mind it wasn't just the power generators," he said. "There were problems with gas production. There were problems with the compressors that move the gas around Texas."

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There's been little confidence in the grid since the statewide outages that left more than 200 dead. 

Weinstein says it’s not just the weather putting a strain on the grid. 

"There are 300,000 more Texans today than there were during the deep freeze last February," he said. "So that in itself suggests there's going to be an increase in power demand relative to a year ago."

In a two-day meeting, ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission met to hash out what’s been accomplished to prepare for this winter, showing pictures of heating strips and covers from inspections conducted last month. 

"If you walked out into a plant, you wouldn't see that picture in the upper left side," explained David Kezell, ERCOT’s director of weatherization and inspection. "Once you apply the heat tracing, you apply insolation over the top and you put aluminum or stainless steel cladding to keep the water out."

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Windbreak structures are also up to protect equipment from extreme temperatures. 

ERCOT says the facilities represented 85% of the megawatt-hours lost last February. 

The first test for the winterized grid will be later this week. Lows will be in the 20s in North Texas and peak demand is expected Friday.

ERCOT has already notified energy generators of what’s to come. 

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"We expect to have sufficient generation available and shouldn't be any problem and probably a little more than what we saw on Jan. 3," said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT vice president, system operations.

Last week, ERCOT told the PUC they are having a staffing shortage, saying it could impact them meeting deadlines for 2023. PUC told them to hire a third party.