FERC today approved two new extreme cold weather reliability standards aimed at implementing key recommendations from the joint inquiry into 2021’s Winter Storm Uri to prevent a recurrence of the unprecedented power outages affecting millions of people in Texas and the South Central U.S.
The reliability standards, proposed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) in October 2022, contain new and revised requirements to advance reliability of the grid during extreme cold weather temperatures. They include implementation of generator freeze protection measures, enhanced cold weather preparedness plans, identification of freeze-sensitive equipment in generators, corrective actions for when equipment freeze issues occur, annual training for generator maintenance and operations personnel, and procedures to improve the coordination of load reduction measures during a grid emergency.
Although FERC approves the new extreme cold weather reliability standards, FERC also identifies areas for improvement, and directs NERC to modify the extreme cold weather preparedness and operations reliability standard to address concerns related to applicability, ambiguity, a lack of objective measures and deadlines, and prolonged, indefinite compliance periods. Also, along with the approval and directives for modifications, FERC directs NERC to collect and assess data over time to monitor and assess entities’ implementation of the new requirements.
“These new standards will help to prepare our nation’s grid and our grid operators so they can provide power to consumers in the face of extreme weather,” FERC Chairman Willie Phillips said. “I am pleased that NERC and its regional entities acted swiftly to propose these reliability standards so that my fellow Commissioners and I could move decisively and vote today to ensure the reliability and resilience of the bulk power system.”
The reliability standards FERC approves today implement approximately half of the standards-related recommendations from the joint inquiry into the 2021 winter storm. The remaining recommendations will be addressed in a second phase of NERC’s standards development, which now under way.