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Texas regulators make changes to decrease demand on power grid this winter

PUC to increase incentives for large consumers to register with ERCOT to decrease their electricity demand when there is a strain on the grid.

HOUSTON — Texas power regulators are making some changes in hopes of avoiding another deadly storm event.

The Public Utility Commission is revising its rules to help keep the lights on in the short and long-term.

The decided, on Thursday, it is going to increase incentives for large consumers to register with ERCOT to decrease their electricity demand when there is a strain on the grid. The commission also approved a new service that includes paying generators to have onsite fuel storage so they can respond to abrupt changes to electricity supply. 

However, KHOU Energy Expert Ed Hirs says getting people to volunteer their power when they need it most is going to be a challenge.

“I don't think it's going to be very effective. They can try it. What the PUC is doing is nibbling around edges, tweaking different parts of the market trying to create this horse. But with all of these tweaks it's becoming an awful looking camel with six legs and four humps. It doesn't know which way it’s going,” Hirs said.

Hirs added, he does not believe the solution will come this winter. He says, 20% of generation companies have reported they are not going to be weatherized, and the Railroad Commission has not required weatherization of gas infrastructure for this year.

Hirs suggests consumers prepare this winter much like they would for hurricane season. Have supplies, like water and blankets, ready for a cold snap.