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Policy Edition

In This Newsletter: 

  • ERCOT Cancels Additional Winter Capacity RFP
  • PUCT's Texas Energy Fund
  • Railroad Commission Energy Conservation Program Rulemaking
  • Upcoming Events and Webinars
  • Heartland Clean Energy Grid Resilience Partnership 
  • What We’re Reading

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ERCOT Cancels Winter Capacity RFP

In an attempt to assuage concerns around the upcoming winter weather, ERCOT issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to add an additional 3,000MW of capacity to the grid utilizing decommissioned power plants or “zombie power plants”. According to the grid operator there is roughly a 20% chance of entering emergency operating conditions this winter. While there is clear concern for operations this winter, there were many questions to be answered from the RFP. Firstly, the cost to consumers. On November 2nd the Public Utility Commission of Texas voted 3-1 to limit costs associated with the procurement of additional capacity. Also, according to ERCOT participation in the RFP was low. 

What’s next? Well, ERCOT representatives have stated that there are significant opportunities for demand-side resources to increase the grids reliability this winter. “Regardless of the market response today, ERCOT firmly believes that there remains tremendous potential in expanding demand response capabilities throughout the industrial, commercial, and residential customer classes”. This is crucial for the state since the majority of our peak demand is caused by residential heating and cooling needs. Utilizing demand-side resources like energy efficiency and demand response would significantly improve our ability to prepare and thrive during extreme weather events, while helping to keep energy costs and utility bills low.

If you would like to review comments made by stakeholders on winter preparedness, please see PUCT Docket 55633 page here. You can also read more about the RFP cancellation here.

Texas Energy Fund

On November 7th Texas voters approved State Proposition 7 which establishes the Texas Energy Fund (TEF). This fund will be used primarily for the development of 10,000 MW of new gas-fired generation. Currently the fund is set up to issue $10 billion in loans and grant funding for several areas. Roughly $7.2b will be available for new construction or upgrades that return at least 100MW’s of dispatchable generation in ERCOT. Another $1.8b will be directed for development of microgrids and backup power for critical facilities. The remaining $1b will go to grid modernization, weatherization, and other non-ERCOT portions of Texas. The PUCT will be the state agency in charge of administering the TEF dollars over the life of the fund. 

Texas energy demand continues to grow and evolve and shows no signs of slowing down. While it is imperative that new generation come online, doing so without also putting significant emphasis on demand-side resources would be detrimental to the cause. 

The PUCT has added agenda items to their open meetings schedule to review and discuss the TEF further. More information can be found on their website here

Railroad Commission Energy Conservation Program Rulemaking

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) began their efforts to implement new statutes into their rules. One specific rule to bring to your attention was the public comment period running between September 19th to October 25th for changes to the proposed natural gas energy conservation program designs, the request can be found at the RRC website. SPEER and several other organizations filed comments to the RRC in response to their request for feedback to assist in developing programs that could provide assistance to Texas homes and businesses to become more efficient through appliance replacement, weatherization upgrades, and educational efforts as these programs are designed. 

SPEER appreciated the opportunity to provide comments and discussed possible changes to include a cost-effectiveness standard, developing a technical reference manual for gas conservation programs, establishing a public engagement process, and requiring a minimum budget threshold for low-income residents.

On November 15th the RRC voted to approve part of the rule change which would not allow gas disconnections from delinquent residential customers, however the adoption of the gas conservation program rules was deferred to a later meeting. The next open meeting for the RRC will be held on December 13th. An agenda will be filed at least seven days before the open meeting. SPEER will be monitoring and will be sure to get the word out if this rule is added to the agenda.

If you would like to see any of the comments filed or learn more about the development of these rules, please go to the RRC public comments page here.

Events + Webinars


Today, November 28th at 10:30 AM, SPEER's Energy Code Manager is hosting a webinar on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) basics and Mechanical Ventilation. We know air quality directly impacts our health and comfort, but modern building practices, while excellent for energy efficiency, often results in limited natural airflow. This can lead to the accumulation of pollutants indoors, which mechanical ventilation systems effectively mitigate. Join us for this presentation and let’s look at what makes up bad indoor air quality and how, if designed correctly, the mechanical ventilation system can lower the potential for a sick home. Register here.

SPEER will be hosting a webinar on Optimizing Industrial Efficiency: Insights from Oklahoma State’s Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) on November 30. Join us as we delve into the initiatives of the Oklahoma State University (OSU) IAC and discuss ways they are leveraging resources to support local industries and enhance the skills of the workforce. This webinar will provide a unique insight into the program’s key objectives, methodologies, and success stories, showcasing its dedication to advancing sustainable practices, energy efficiency, and economic resilience. If you are interested in attending, please register here.

Register now for our Update on Advanced Framing webinar on December 5th. Join us as we look at simple but effective advanced framing techniques that ny productions builder can easily implement. From two-stud corners, ladder blocking, insulated headers, and 24-inch on-center, we review real-world examples of how advanced framing can optimize material usage, reduce waste, and improve the thermal efficiency of today’s new construction homes.

TEPRITEPRI will be hosting an in-person discussion with Doug Lewin, Stefania Tomaskovic, and Anissa Rodriguez Dickerman to explore essential factors for a just, environmentally sustainable future in Texas. The event will be on December 14th at the Bass Lecture Hall at the LBJ School for Public Affairs in Austin, TX. If you are interested in attending, please register here.

Grid Resilience & Innovation Partnership:

Scurry County, TX

Heartland Clean Energy (Heartland) is advancing affordable, clean energy across rural communities. It is a public, private, and philanthropic partnership to prepare for extreme weather, enable additional renewable energy, and meet clean energy goals. The mission is a powerful blend of innovation and social impact, aiming to commercialize proven, cutting-edge technologies that embrace clean energy while uplifting communities.

Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) enhance grid reliability and offer hope for rural communities by providing backup power during outages, reducing peak demand on the grid, stabilizing service for grid operators, and promoting the growth of clean energy from sources like solar and wind. The next step is to add a supporting local microgrid. Learn more about this grid resilience and innovation partnership starting in Scurry County, Texas.

For more information about this exciting project, contact Royce Heslep directly at 713-304-3396 or [email protected].

What We're Reading...

Texas power grid operator approved for a 40% budget increase – Texas Tribune

How 'Buy Clean' policies will help decarbonize heavy industries – Canary Media

PUC attempts to rein in ERCOT, protect consumers – Texas Energy and Power Newsletter  

Heat pumps are hot, but commercial retrofits face cold realities – Utility Dive

Can ERCOT show the way to faster and cheaper grid interconnection? – Utility Dive

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