Texas power regulators consider smaller power sources

The Public Utility Commission wants to know how the public grid could use distributed energy resources.

AUSTIN, Texas — Those charged with regulating Texas’ electric grid want ideas for how the state’s system can use smaller, even personal energy resources, such as rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles.

the Public utility commission (PUC) will consider Distributed Energy Resources (DER) when developing future plans.

“Distributed generation refers to a variety of technologies that generate electricity where it will be used or near it, such as solar panels and combined heat and power,” said the US Environmental Protection Agency website shows.

The PUC is redesigning the electricity market in Texas.

A deadly winter storm in February 2021 crippled the state’s largest power grid. Homes lost power as temperatures plunged into single digits. Some of these outages lasted nearly a week. The state network was minutes from blackout.

PUC Commissioner Will McAdams left a note ask for ideas.

“This is a dynamic and evolving area of ​​the energy industry which, as the memo alludes to, is advancing by leaps and bounds every day and only accelerating after a winter storm Uri Because everyone is looking to try to have some type of backup power source on their house,” McAdams said at a public meeting of the commission on Thursday.

McAdams wrote in the memo, “While electricity markets have historically relied on generation resources to deliver electricity and ensure grid reliability, we are at a crossroads where consumers should be empowered to actively participate in the market to reduce local congestion and improve network resilience.At the same time, we should be able to build a grid that allows these resources to support our resource adequacy goals and resilience.”

McAdams said his note was “a cry for help.”

“There’s a lot of technology and resources out there. But ultimately, as you’ve said repeatedly, we have to have the right level of command and control to make sure those resources can be used for a lot of things,” said PUC President Peter Lake.

Typically, electricity starts with a generator such as coal or natural gas. Then the material is processed and the electricity is fed into the power grid. Transmission and distribution lines carry power to homes and businesses.

When connected to the grid, DERs can supply electricity to the owner and additional customers. DERs are found in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.

“That’s the holy grail question. If we can ever crack the code on that, then the network has unlimited potential in terms of segmentation, in terms of resilience capacity, in terms of resource adequacy,” said said McAdams.

All three commissioners agreed to receive submissions.

“These are important issues and I think we should move on and as quickly as possible,” said PUC Commissioner James Glotfelty.

“Thank you for your leadership, Commissioner McAdams, on these issues. These are great questions and I like your focus both inside and outside of ERCOT,” said Lori Cobos, Commissioner of the PUC.

The memos filed show that “this will require system-wide investment.”

  • Distribution planning and control
  • Transmission and distribution plans, processes and standards
  • Cost analysis
  • Accessibility of data to establish baselines, improve development and resolve security issues

The Commission will take ideas until June 15.

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