Generators and the larger U.S. power grid saw improved performance during two recent winter storms, according to preliminary review by staff from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

During Winter Storms Gerri and Heather, which took place January 10-17, there was zero system operator-initiated load shed, staff shared in a presentation at the FERC meeting on Thursday.

This was in stark contrast to the more the 5,400 MW of load shed during Winter Storm Elliott and the more than 23,000 MW of load shed during Winter Storm Uri. The latter was the largest ever system operator-initiated load shed event across North America.

The scope of the Gerri-Heather performance review presented by staff included electricity planning and operations practices, procedures and resources used prior to and during the January 2024 winter storms, as well as generator performance before and during those storms

Compared to Winter Storms Elliott and Uri, FERC-NERC staff said generators reported fewer derates or outages during Gerri and Heather. Staff presenters said this is potentially attributed to improved winter preparedness, proactive generator commitment, improved gas generator stability due to variable fuel supply methods and incorporating operating limitations into plans.

Most generator owners and operators were able to procure natural gas during the storms, staff also reported Thursday.

Multiple generator owners and operators stated that they have developed cold weather checklists, according to the report. This has helped them review the status of their freeze protection measures, fuel availability, and supplies of needed consumables.

Other observations from Thursday’s presentation included:

•A grid operator stated that since Winter Storm Uri, a significantly higher percentage of its generators can operate below freezing temperatures.

•A grid operator stated that the Public Utility Commission of Texas’s generator winterization rules have been a strong driver of improved generator performance during cold weather events, including during Gerri and Heather.

•A grid operator stated that it observed a ten-fold reduction in outages as compared to Winter Storm Elliott and attributed it to implementing lessons learned, its after-action review process, and completing thousands of winter readiness activities.

•The above winterization measures taken prior to and during the January arctic storms are consistent with and strengthen the importance of recommendations from the Winter Storm Uri and Elliott after-action reports.

FERC and NERC are working to establish an online dashboard to track the status of the Winter Storm Uri and Elliott recommendations. Between the two storms, 39 recommendations related to grid reliability during extreme cold weather were proposed.

Of the 39 total recommendations, two-thirds of recommendations are completed or in progress, staff said at the FERC meeting. Of the one-third that remain, most recommendations are related to improving natural gas cold weather preparedness and improvements to gas-electric coordination.

Staff noted the challenges highlighted in Thursday’s presentation emphasize the need for continued implementation of recommendations from the Winter Storm Uri and Elliott reports.

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