Former members Public Utilities Commission make recommendations to improve Texas power grid

Former members of the Public Utilities Commission are lending their thoughts on how Texas can improve its power grid after the February winter storm in a newly released report.  

The report published Thursday addresses some of the issues that caused a massive power grid failure and their recommendations moving forward.

The report lays out a number of recommendations for improving the Texas grid.

But critics say these are lessons that were learned a decade ago, after the 2011 storm, and could’ve been put into place sooner. 

"I think that’s what our Texas ice storm has done for us. It really helped us pivot and say, ‘OK, these are not going to be one off events anymore,’" said Becky Klein, Principal of Klein Energy LLC.

Former Public Utilities Commission members are laying out their thoughts on how to improve the Texas power grid.

Some of their recommendations include improving standards for energy efficiency and demand response. 

"What kind of programs would be really practical in a de-regulated and also public power part of our market to incentivize you and I to turn up our thermostats in the summer or turn down our thermostat in winter?" Klein asked.

The report also recommends fine-tuning ERCOT’s forecasting mechanisms to better prepare for how much power will be needed. 

"I think they have to look now to make sure they do a good self-assessment and look retroactively and look at some of their forecasting and what had been the standard deviations of their forecasting and how they can minimize those so they get their forecasting more correct," Klein said.

But critics say many of these recommendations could’ve been implemented after the 2011 storm. 

"These are things that should’ve been done more than 10 years ago. They weren’t done. The authors of the report all had some hand in the development of the market, the design of the market, and the early years of the market structure," said Dr. Ed Hirs,  energy fellow at the University of Houston. "We’re left with a broken market that now needs billions and billions more spent."

And current legislation to improve the Texas grid doesn’t address the root of the problem, that many power generators are losing money.

"For more than 10 years now, the average wholesale price received by generation companies in Texas has been less than the cost of providing that generation," Hirs explained. "Why would I want to build a new generation plant in Texas if I’m just going to lose money doing it? If anything, it provides incentive for me to close down generation plants."

Hirs says that unless new power generators are built, we will see problems with the power grid more and more often.