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Texas counties and cities submit comments on electricity market changes

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Travis County is joining the cities of Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lewisville, Mesquite and Plano, submitting ideas for the changes their leaders want to see with electricity and grid markets Texas electricity.

The state Public Utilities Commission is reviewing changes to the wholesale electricity market design and stakeholders have an opportunity to submit comments on December 10. chose to provide “collective comment” to their requests.

On Tuesday, Travis County commissioners approved a measure to sign the document, which outlines five recommendations from these municipalities.

  • Increased energy efficiency and demand response programs
  • Appreciate and encourage a diverse resource base to deliver a wide range of grid benefits and services
  • Minimize the severity and disproportionate impact of outages on different types of customers
  • Consider expanding Texans’ access to reliable electricity by connecting to neighboring grids
  • Ensure a comprehensive and robust marketplace redesign process for stakeholder redesign

“As local governments, the undersigned are also frontline responders and key actors in crisis prevention and management.” reading material. “During winter storm Uri, we experienced firsthand the far-reaching effects of the loss of energy. These have already exceeded huge customer bills; Inevitable living circumstances have caused our community great physical suffering and emotional harm. ”

Most of the conversation about the aftermath of the storm centered on the freezing of generators and factories in Texas. Precinct 2 Commissioner Brigid Shea, who brought the measure to court, told KXAN it was important to hold PUC and ERCOT accountable for the electricity market.

“This is the kind of thing where the Public Interest Commission needs to give very clear guidance and pass rules,” she said. “You, the PUC, are the governing body. You need to use your regulatory power.”

She cited a report from the Travis County Medical Examiner that said up to 94 people in the county may have died as a result of the storm.

“I think it’s an outrage. People – many people – died because of this. So it’s not just saying, ‘Oh, it would be great if there was a better and more efficient grid. No, this is a matter of life and death,” she said.

The document outlining proposed plans from local municipalities emphasizes the importance of giving equal priority to all Texans as the changes are implemented.

“The Commission can explicitly include traditionally underrepresented communities, program directives or trust rates to both ensure equal access to worthwhile energy services. reliable and affordable, while reducing disparities in energy burdens between all residents and communities, ensuring equitable economic and environmental impacts from any market change school, and more,” it reads.

“That hit the poorest, most marginalized communities of color hardest, in our towns and counties,” Shea said.

Energy efficiency and demand response programs

In the draft of the plan, the local municipalities say expanding existing energy-saving programs and demand-response programs is an immediate way to improve the reliability of their systems. grid. They cite an October 2021 study by the American Council on Energy Efficiency Economy, which claims these programs, under statewide direction over five years, could offset a significant portion of the summer and winter loads.

They also point out benefits for Texans “every day by reducing customer energy bills.” They asked PUC to do an exploratory study looking at the creation of new programs like these.

“Both new and existing programs should focus on home insulation, smart thermostats, home heating and cooling to reduce both energy use and peak loads, while improving availability. readiness of residential homes for extreme weather or other crisis conditions,” reading material.

Diverse resource base

The municipalities urged the PUC to design a marketplace that would allow all sources of energy generation, storage and distribution – such as residential solar – to have equal access to the grid. They say this will increase reliability.

The document says, “We also encourage the Commission to establish policies that allow residential customers to view and respond to real-time electricity rates and flexible demand requirements to help them make informed decisions.…”

Disproportionate impact of power outages

They also asked PUC to take steps to ensure the outage does not disproportionately affect certain types of customers, particularly vulnerable populations.

For example, they suggest modifying existing distribution circuit designs, for more granular failure management. Instead, they say, circuits could be broken down into small pieces, with their own critical facilities or with just a handful of customers, allowing them to cycle the capacity they have more evenly across. customer.

Consider connecting to neighboring grids

The document later acknowledged that Texas’ electricity market was “effectively self-serving for its residents.” However, the draft plan proposes to try to use energy sources from neighboring markets and other regional power grids, especially in times of crisis.

“An American study of the Clean Energy Grid after Winter Storm Uri found that each additional gigawatt (GW) of transmission relationships between ERCOT and the Southeastern United States could save nearly 1 billion dollars, while keeping the heat for hundreds of explanatory documents.

Comprehensive stakeholder engagement process

The draft plan repeatedly emphasizes the need for equity and inclusion, as the market redesign takes place.

As their final proposal to the PUC, they asked the PUC to provide more education, active engagement and clear communication on how they intend to work with stakeholders, including local governments. way, in the future.

Local governments plan to submit all of these comments to the PUC at their next participation opportunity on Friday, December 10, 2021. To read more about the comments, click here. here. To read the full comments, click here.

https://www.kxan.com/news/local/travis-county/a-life-and-death-matter-texas-counties-cities-sound-off-on-electric-market-changes/ Texas counties and cities submit comments on electricity market changes

DUSTIN JONES

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