On November 10, 2021, ERCOT held a workshop on Generation Entity Winter Weather Preparedness.  At this workshop, ERCOT provided an explanation of its approach to implementing the Public Utility Commission’s Winter Emergency Preparedness Rule,[1] which was issued in August 2021 in response to legislative directives contained in Texas Senate Bill 3 (“SB 3”).  The new rule aims to ensure that the electric industry is prepared to provide continuous reliable electric service throughout this upcoming winter season and to comply with the statutory deadline for the adoption of weather emergency preparedness reliability standards set forth in SB 3.
Continue Reading Texas Winter Readiness Update – November 10, 2021

During the 87th regular legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed several bills to address energy-related issues resulting from Winter Storm Uri. Together, the legislation required an overhaul of the ERCOT board of directors, expanded the Public Utility Commission of Texas (“PUCT”) from three to five members, imposed weatherization requirements on generation and transmission assets in ERCOT and on certain components of natural gas infrastructure, and directed a redesign of the ERCOT market to ensure grid reliability. As of September 1st , all of these laws were effective.
Continue Reading Legislative Check-In on Energy-Related Mandates from the 87th Regular Session

After Winter Storm Uri devastated the ERCOT grid, calls for industry reform rang out across the state of Texas. For the past few months, public hearings and floor debates have considered wide-ranging proposals to harden the ERCOT system against extreme weather events and address the financial consequences of the storm. The Legislature considered numerous bills dealing with issues such as energy and ancillary services repricing, market rules and price formation, generation weatherization, ERCOT and Texas Public Utility Commission (“PUCT”) reform, debt securitization, and the appropriate role and accountability of renewable resources in securing reliability of the grid. Below we provide an overview of the most significant energy legislation proposed during the recent Texas legislative session, both related and unrelated to Winter Storm Uri fallout. The Legislature passed bills that will affect all segments of the Texas energy economy, which collectively will prompt significant change in the years ahead. We have described bills that “passed” as those that have been enrolled or have already been signed into law by the Governor (Bills that have an asterisk in this article have been signed by the Governor.). We note that the veto period extends for 20 days post-session, which ended May 31st , so as of this writing it remains possible the Governor may veto some of these bills, though we have no indication he intends to do so. We will update this post after the veto period expires to note any such vetoes.
Continue Reading A Legislative Session in Review: Taking a Look at Key Energy Bills that Did (and Did Not) Pass During the 87th Regular Session

In the wake of winter storm Uri, ERCOT market participants are grappling with the resulting financial fallout. Many are now familiar with actions the Texas Public Utility Commission took during the February weather event with the intent to bring and maintain as much generation online as possible – notably ordering ERCOT to implement a temporary adjustment to the scarcity pricing mechanism designed to result in real time prices reaching the system-wide high offer cap at the statutory maximum of $9,000/mWh during the height of the generation forced outages.

Now, more than two months removed from the storm, the resulting financial impacts are having serious repercussions across the ERCOT market. Several retail electric providers have filed for bankruptcy, lawsuits are underway against a wide swath of market participants and regulators (ERCOT, the Public Utility Commission, generators, REPs, gas utilities, etc.), and countless market participants are faced with paying record-high bills for a range of reasons, including the need to procure energy in the real-time market during scarcity conditions, to obtain high priced gas supplies, to cover positions when their resources incurred outages, or exposure to uplift of default amounts owed to ERCOT. Complicating that, ERCOT has failed to pay many who did perform during the storm due to the short payment of some market participants, which means those who performed may not soon realize revenue associated with that performance. Additionally, the higher prices for power and ancillary services prompted ERCOT to substantially increase Counter-Party collateral requirements. Last month, the Public Utility Commission issued an order in Docket 51812 extending the deadline to dispute ERCOT invoices related to the winter event from 10 business days (under the current ERCOT Protocols) to six months. Since this order, the Commission has taken no additional action to address issues related to settlement invoices resulting from the storm.
Continue Reading ERCOT Unveils Plan for Invoicing Default Uplift Charges

ERCOT has experienced more attention to and development of Private Use Networks (“PUN”) in the last months and years. This post summarizes what these “islands in the grid” are, their positive attributes, and how to create one.

If you find this post helpful, or would like to hear more about PUNs, we will be presenting more detailed information on this subject in a March 30th “Private Use Networks & Self-Generation: What You Need to Know” webinar, in which we will also address audience questions.

You can register for the free webinar using this link.

What’s a PUN?

Private Use Network is defined by ERCOT as “[a]n electric network connected to the ERCOT Transmission Grid that contains Load that is not directly metered by ERCOT (i.e., Load that is typically netted with internal generation).”  While a PUN is interconnected to the ERCOT system, it functions largely as an island within the ERCOT system that has both generation and load (separate from station load).  A PUN can contain many different categories of resources and loads, all of which are behind an ERCOT-polled settlement (“EPS”) meter. ERCOT models a PUN in its system models (used for transmission planning and for interconnection studies) if it contains at least 10MW generation, has more than one connection to the ERCOT grid, or provides ancillary services. For settlement purposes, ERCOT will settle the net of generation and load during any interval so that if the PUN is “net load” in an interval, it will be settled as load, and as generation if energy delivered to the system during interval exceeds energy consumed.
Continue Reading Private Use Networks & Self-Generation: What You Need to Know

FERC recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) that would eliminate the need for electric power sellers with market-based rate authority who sell into certain independent system operator (ISO) and regional transmission organization (RTO) capacity markets to file two screens—the pivotal supplier screen and wholesale market-share screen—with FERC, which would simplify the horizontal market

Husch Blackwell partners with the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA) once again to present a five-part webinar series focused on the Texas renewable energy industry. The final installment in the New Directions webinar series will discuss the upcoming 2019 regular session of the Texas Legislature and what’s in store for renewable energy.

Register

Potomac Economics, the Independent Market Monitor (IMM) for the ERCOT market, released its “2017 State of the Market Report for the ERCOT Electricity Markets,” which contains several important insights for market participants and offered seven recommendations for market improvements.

Prices and Demand Move Higher in 2017

First, the IMM found that energy prices increased 14.7% over 2016, to $28.25 per MWh. This price is still significantly less than 2011’s average annual price of $52.23 per MWh and even 2014’s average annual price of $40.64 per MWh. The 2017 price increase correlates with a 22% increase in the cost of natural gas, the most widely-used fuel in ERCOT, as fuel costs represent the majority of most suppliers’ marginal production costs.  The IMM also found price convergence to be very good in 2017, with the day-ahead and real-time prices both averaging $26 per MWh.  However, the absolute difference between day-ahead and real-time prices still increased from $7.44 per MWh in 2016 to $8.60 per MWh in 2017.

Average demand also increased, rising 1.9% from 2016, with demand in the West Zone seeing the largest average load increase at 8.3% (possibly due to oil and natural gas production activity in that zone). Despite this increase in average demand, peak demand in ERCOT reached 69,512 MW on July 28, 2017, which is lower than the ERCOT-wide coincident peak hourly demand record of 71,100 MW, set on August 11, 2016.  Even with general price and demand increases, market conditions were rarely tight as real-time prices didn’t exceed $3,000 per MWh and exceeded $1,000 per MWh for just 3.5 hours in all of 2017.

Congestion Costs Skyrocket

Surprisingly, the IMM found congestion in the ERCOT real-time market increased considerably, contributing significantly to price increases in 2017 with total congestion costs equaling $967 million – a 95% increase from 2016.  The IMM stated that this increase is due to three main factors: (1) limitations on export capacity from the Panhandle; (2) planned outages associated with the construction of the Houston Import Project; and (3) the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

While congestion was more frequent in 2017 than in 2016, congestion on the North to Houston constraint declined after June due to the completion of a new 1,200 MW combined cycle generator located in Houston. The completion of the Houston Import Project in 2018 should reduce congestion in this area even further.
Continue Reading ERCOT’s State of the Market Report

It appears the Texas Legislature has taken note of the several news articles and industry insiders sounding the alarm bells for ratepayers to brace for record high electricity prices this summer in a market applauded for its consistently low prices. The Committee convened because the Lt. Governor charged it to study/respond to the reserve margin

While the Texas 85th legislative session began with the filing of several bills on a diverse range of energy issues, few had made it into law when the session ended on May 29, 2017. The House and Senate passed legislation that impacts wind generation facilities, electric utility rate-setting and the General Land Office’s retail electricity