GVEC works tirelessly every year to prepare for winter. Our preparations include rigorous and meticulous maintenance routines, vegetation management and procuring sufficient power to protect members against potential market volatility during cold weather that could highly impact electric rates. We also conduct a winter tabletop simulation exercise and assess our Emergency Operations Plan, adapting where needed to be as prepared as possible for any circumstance. Thorough assessment and testing of our distribution and transmission systems are another critical part of our winter preparations, as are systemic audits of our outage detection and mapping systems. And we regularly review our inventory to ensure we have any backup parts or equipment needed during a potential emergency. And I want to assure you: Your Cooperative is ready—operationally and financially—for any cold front or storm the coming season holds.

GVEC’s preparedness is also influenced by ERCOT’s (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) management of the statewide electric grid. ERCOT is overseen by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT), and both are guided by the Texas State Legislature. After Uri, the Texas Legislature mandated ERCOT and the PUCT to redesign the Texas energy market and overhaul state-level emergency response planning. In January 2022, ERCOT released an intensive, 60-point Roadmap to Improving Grid Reliability, using it to develop a broader, two-phase plan for further improving grid resiliency and reliability. This plan’s implementation is well underway.

Under the plan, components vital to normal cold weather operation are being identified at generation facilities across Texas, and measures are being taken to prevent breakdowns during extreme temperatures. In many cases, such components are being upgraded or the generating unit itself—often a natural gas facility—“retrofitted” with necessary parts. To augment the effectiveness of these upgrades, maintenance schedules for critical generation assets across the ERCOT area are being audited and restructured as applicable. ERCOT’s plan further requires each generation asset to estimate how much capacity it can reliably produce during sustained cold. Personnel at each facility must now participate in regular, unit-specific cold weather preparedness training too. The plan also requires critical generation assets—especially natural gas facilities—to be prioritized by providers during manual and automatic load-shedding orders. The aim is to keep these facilities generating electricity when it’s needed most.

Certain critical reforms on the market side were already in place before ERCOT’s current plan. These include raising the baseline level for energy demand that triggers scarcity pricing. The aim is to incentivize backup generation assets to come online more quickly, before reserves dip to crisis levels. Another such reform was the lowering of scarcity price caps, which will help prevent the prolonged high market prices experienced during Uri.

These are a few of the highlights of ERCOT and the PUCT’s market/emergency planning overhaul. Please rest assured, no matter what changes ERCOT and the PUCT implement, the Cooperative will keep its members informed and will build and update our own emergency processes under any new guidelines in a way that delivers maximum benefit to those we serve.

Lastly, I strongly encourage all GVEC members to maintain up-to-date contact information on their accounts. Doing so ensures you receive email and text alerts and can report outages via text message with our TextPower™ outage reporting system. Updates may be made via the SmartHub® self-service customer portal on a desktop computer or by calling 800.223.4832.

I am always interested in your comments and feedback. Contact me by phone at 830.857.1152, by email at dschauer@gvec.org or by mail at P.O. Box 118, Gonzales, Texas 78629.



company icon