On July 13, 2021, ERCOT announced the delivery of its “Roadmap to Improving Grid Reliability,” a 60-item plan that addresses needed improvements to ERCOT’s electric grid with the aim of avoiding future failures like the one experienced this past February when much of the state was left without power and over 200 people died amidst record-setting winter temperatures.
In an official press release announcing the Roadmap’s delivery, ERCOT Board member and Texas Public Utility Chairman claimed the map “puts a clear focus on protecting customers while also ensuring that Texas maintains free-market incentives to bring new generation to the state.”
The notion of the free market is one we at CPower have often discussed in explaining how the ERCOT market differs from others around the country. From its very founding, ERCOT’s energy-only market was designed to let economics, not legislation, drive the action within its marketplace.
In the wake of February’s tragedy–and the harrowing death toll certainly qualifies the event as such–there has been a wealth of debate in Texas and throughout the US on whether ERCOT’s economically driven approach to grid reliability is the best way to avoid future grid failure.
There is one curious item in ERCOT’s 60-item roadmap that is worth pointing out to large consumer and industrial organizations in Texas.
Item 19 concerning the future of distributed generation, energy storage, and demand response speaks to both legislative and financial methods of exacting change on a grid seeking to cross the bridge to energy’s future.
Item 19 of the roadmap reads as follows:
“Eliminate barriers to distributed generation, energy storage, and demand response/ flexibility to allow more resources to participate in the ERCOT market while also maintaining adequate reliability”
With this item, which is “on track” according to the roadmap, we see ERCOT is well on its way to implementing an improvement to its market that is rather similar to the intent of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 2222, which states:
“Order No. 2222 will help usher in the electric grid of the future and promote competition in electric markets by removing the barriers preventing distributed energy resources (DERs) from competing on a level playing field in the organized capacity, energy, and ancillary services markets run by regional grid operators.”
Language like what ERCOT submitted in its roadmap with item 19 wouldn’t raise an eyebrow had it come from any other deregulated US energy market outside of Texas.
That’s because other state and regional energy markets must comply with Order 2222 within FERC’s mandated period of time. ERCOT does not.
Because its grid is isolated from the surrounding states, ERCOT’s market does not engage in interstate commerce and is therefore not under FERC’s jurisdiction.
Yet ERCOT appears to be on the road to creating a future marketplace that allows its grid to integrate the flexible DERs CPower and other demand-side energy management companies have been touting for years are necessary to maintain a balanced, dependable grid that is evolving to a cleaner future.
Here we have an example of ERCOT agreeing with Federal legislation despite the truth that they are under no legal obligation to do so.
In the simplest of terms, Order 2222 is a piece of legislation aimed at fostering just and reasonable competition in the wholesale marketplace.
ERCOT’s market is and always has been designed with competition in mind. Look no further than item 19’s language for proof that the future of ERCOT’s grid involves allowing more energy resources to enter the marketplace and compete, not fewer.
ERCOT is expressly stating that it believes more distributed generation, energy storage, and demand response in its marketplace is the best way to ensure a more reliable grid for Texas and more value for its market participants.
As the Supreme Court is fond of saying, it is written. As Texans like to say, let’s get to work and take care of business.