PUC Turns Outage Scheduling Issues over to ERCOT
Texas regulators last week praised ERCOT for its response to stakeholder criticism over how it handled an early March cold-weather event that prompted it to ask generators to reschedule planned outages.
Market participants publicly aired their concerns with ERCOT during a Technical Advisory Committee meeting March 27, arguing that the grid operator did not give the market a chance to work and that it had not adequately shared its insight into the market. (See ERCOT Generators Upset over Early March Weather Event.)
Since then, ERCOT has begun assembling a task force that will consider improvements to communications and procedures during anticipated emergency conditions; increasing the market visibility of ERCOT forecasts; reviewing how planned outages are delayed or withdrawn; and whether to develop cost-recovery mechanisms for outages postponed or canceled because of reliability reasons.
That was enough for the Texas Public Utility Commission to wave off a presentation by ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin during its open meeting Thursday. Woodfin had planned to deliver the same presentation he gave during two hours of discussion before the TAC.
“I’m happy to see you have a process now and you’re working on it,” Commissioner Arthur D’Andrea told Woodfin. “That’s promising to restore some confidence in the market and make some changes.”
“I would like the market participants to work this out at ERCOT, like we typically do,” PUC Chair DeAnn Walker said. “ERCOT acknowledges they can do things better. I’ve told everyone I’m not interested in going back and punishing anyone for anything that happened. I don’t want anyone dwelling on putting more arrows in Dan, because he got more than he deserved at TAC.”
The PUC opened a proceeding on ERCOT’s outage scheduling processes (Project 49378) and was moved to action after South Texas Electric Cooperative filed a complaint. STEC said it received an instruction to reschedule an outage at its 400-MW, lignite-fueled San Miguel plant less than 12 hours before maintenance work was to begin.
“ERCOT exercised what amounts to a free capacity call option … at great risk to both those generators and the market that have to perform maintenance or risk being subject to forced outages during the period of the lowest reserve margins the ERCOT market has ever seen,” STEC said.
Oncor ARR Reduced by $218M
The commission consented to Oncor’s request to reduce its annual revenue requirement by $218.8 million as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (Docket 48325).
The PUC directed Oncor to apply a 3.25% carrying charge to the amount of federal income tax expense it collects above the amount it would have collected since Jan. 1, 2018.
The PUC held a prehearing conference Monday to accept exhibits for its April 10-12 hearing on proposed transactions involving Sempra Energy, its Oncor subsidiary, Sharyland Utilities, and Sharyland Distribution & Transmission Services (Docket 48929).
The companies in October announced deals worth $1.37 billion, with Sempra buying a 50% stake in Sharyland D&T and Oncor acquiring transmission owner InfraREIT. (See Sempra, Oncor Deals Target Texas Transmission.)
AEP Texas, Oncor Propose Asset Swap
AEP Texas and Oncor have filed an application with the PUC requesting transfer to AEP Texas of Oncor’s distribution assets and associated certificate of convenience and necessity rights in the Rio Grande Valley cities of McAllen and Mission (Docket 49402).
Under the proposal, AEP Texas would acquire Oncor’s distribution assets, valued at about $18 million, and about 54,000 retail distribution customers. Oncor acquired the customers during an asset swap with Sharyland Utilities in 2017. (See Texas PUC OKs Settlement in Oncor-Sharyland Asset Swap.)
— Tom Kleckner