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Rule Passed in Texas to Prevent Power Cut in Winter Storms

During February’s catastrophic Winter Storm, dozens of natural gas providers failed to fill out paperwork that would have prevented their energy from being cut off. Texas regulators attempted to prevent this from happening again on Tuesday. The Texas Railroad Commission, a three-member board that oversees the state’s oil and gas industry, approved a new regulation on Tuesday that will require natural gas businesses that are prepared to operate during a “energy emergency” to complete the proper paperwork.

Those gas firms will be labelled as critical, which means their power will not be switched off in the event of a major Winter Storm. Gas firms who tell the Railroad Commission they aren’t ready to function in an emergency must explain why they aren’t and pay a $150 penalty.

Rule Passed in Texas to Prevent Power Cut in Winter StormsHowever, energy experts say Tuesday’s measure only tackles half of the problem that left 4.5 million Texans without power for days in February due to subfreezing weather. According to a recent federal estimate, natural gas producers losing power and being unable to transport fuel to power plants accounted for 18% of the storm’s power outages.

The state’s natural gas infrastructure has yet to be prepared for another cold freeze, according to the Railroad Commission. A committee established by lawmakers in the spring has until September 2022 to map and identify the state’s natural gas infrastructure, as well as determine what needs to be weatherized to resist extreme weather. As a result, it’s unlikely that natural gas firms will be obliged to weatherize their equipment before 2023. It’s also unclear what those weatherization requirements will be.

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