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    Natural gas needs a winter weather plan: FERC

Summary

A federal report on a February freeze in Texas found most of the outages were related to natural gas or wind power units.

by: Daniel Graeber

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Natural gas needs a winter weather plan: FERC

A federal report published November 16 on a February storm that idled large parts of the energy sector in Texas called on lawmakers to require natural gas facilities implement cold-weather preparedness plans.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Agency published a report running some 300 pages long on events in February, when sub-freezing temperatures idled everything from pump heads to wind turbines.

“In the early morning hours of February 15, 2021, an arctic front moving through Texas and the South-Central US began to take its toll,” the report read. “As temperatures dropped, more and more generating units throughout Texas failed in ERCOT.”

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is the operator of the state energy grid.

FERC found that, of the 1,045 individual power-generating units, 58% of those that experienced outages were driven by natural gas and about a quarter were related to wind power. Coal, solar, nuclear and “other” fuels rounded up the remainder.

In its report, the agency recommended that federal and state legislators, as well as relevant regulatory agencies, “implement and maintain cold weather preparedness plans.” Natural gas infrastructure facilities in particular are called on to take voluntary measures to prepare for cold weather.

FERC, for its part, is tasked with setting up a forum to identify “concrete actions” necessary to improve the reliability of natural gas infrastructure. A report from the Houston Chronicle notes that state oil and gas regulators have already inspected hundreds of natural gas facilities do determine their level of preparation.

More than 4.5mn people lost power in Texas due to the storm. At least 210 people died, with most related to power issues such as the lack of heat.