Texas PUC, RRC Chairs Urge Pipeline Operators To Ensure Availability At Peak Electric Demand
Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Christi Craddick and Public Utility Commission Chairman DeAnn Walker are urging natural gas pipeline operators and electric generation plant operators to work together to ensure availability of pipeline transmission capacity to meet electric generation needs at times of peak demand during the hot Texas summer.
Craddick and Walker are asking stakeholders to work with the Railroad Commission’s Oversight and Safety Division to schedule required pipeline testing outside of peak demand months. During the required tests, pipelines are unable to deliver natural gas, which fuels electric generation plants across Texas.
In the letter by the Chairs to stakeholders, the Chairs said, "As Texas enters the hottest days of the summer, we can expect demand on our state’s electric grid to climb steadily with the temperature. Through recent discussions between our offices, we have identified a potential threat to our state’s ability to meet overall electricity demand during peak months. Specifically, we have been made aware of possible fuel supply interruptions for a number of vital natural gas power plants due to scheduled maintenance on pipelines. We want to ensure that we have the pipeline transmission capacity to deliver the natural gas that fuels electric service for Texans during peak demand months this summer."
"Pipeline safety and reliable electric service are some of the most important responsibilities of the Railroad Commission and Public Utility Commission, respectively. When integrity testing of gas transmission pipelines can be scheduled to take place outside peak electric generation months, without safety risk, we encourage you to take this approach to protect citizens from losing their air conditioning, fans, and lights during the hot Texas summer," the Chairs wrote
"Gas-fueled generation plays a key role in maintaining a reliable supply of electricity across the ERCOT grid. Electric generation operators should optimize their performance, especially when their power is most needed, through careful planning and close collaboration with their vendors, including fuel suppliers. As our reduced reserve margins are put to the test this summer, we continue to encourage electric generation operators to ensure the plants’ ongoing readiness," the Chairs wrote
"Therefore, we are asking gas transmission pipeline operators and electric generation operators to coordinate scheduling integrity testing of pipelines outside of the peak electric generation months to protect against the need for electric power curtailments as we already do in the winter. The Railroad Commission’s Oversight and Safety Division and the Infrastructure and Reliability Division of the Public Utility Commission are monitoring the situation and are ready to assist in meeting natural gas supply and transmission needs for electric generators," the Chairs wrote
“Gas fired electric generation plants make up nearly 40% of our ERCOT’s electric generation, so we need to be sure they are online during times of peak demand,” said Chairman Walker. “With our state’s robust economy and growing population, demand is higher than ever. Therefore, teamwork is the key to a successful summer for all Texans.”
“Pipeline safety is one of the most important areas we regulate at the Railroad Commission,” Chairman Craddick said. “Integrity testing of gas transmission pipelines is a critical part of our safety requirements and should be scheduled to maximize operational availability. We must all work together to make sure the citizens of Texas are able to keep their air conditioning running, fans blowing, and lights on during the hot Texas summer.”
Railroad Commission and Public Utility Commission staff are monitoring electric generation needs during peak demand months and assisting with necessary coordination of pipeline transmission capacity to best ensure natural gas availability for electric generation facilities.