The rules specify how the agency designates certain gas facilities as “critical,” which is particularly important when it comes to the power grid.
Although initially approved just months ago, rules that allow the Texas Railroad Commission to designate certain natural gas facilities as crucially important during emergencies have received a new update.
Designated as “16 TAC §3.65,” the rules initially were proposed last year by the Railroad Commission as part of its implementation of Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 3648 from the 87th Texas Legislature. The rules specify how the agency designates certain gas facilities as “critical,” which is particularly important when it comes to the power grid. This is because natural gas suppliers fuel many electric generators and failures by the gas industry have been identified as major contributing factors behind last year’s rolling outages.
The Railroad Commission adopted 16 TAC §3.65 in November 2021, but then re-opened the rulemaking process soon thereafter in response to additional staff and stakeholder input. Now, the three-member panel has adopted new changes, many of them technical in nature. Others, however, will have broader impact.
City Coalition Weighs In
Some of the changes also incorporate suggestions from the Atmos Cities Steering Committee, a major municipal coalition involved in ratemaking matters at the Railroad Commission. For instance, the agency agreed to further clarify the process that gas facilities must follow when requesting critical designations, as per an ACSC suggestion. The agency also agreed to clarify how the agency makes such designations, also as per an ACSC suggestion.
Some of the other changes include the following:
- The Commission adopted amendments to provide more certainty regarding the definition of “energy emergency.” In specific terms, the Commission adopted amendments to define an event with “potential to result in firm load shed” as when the reliability coordinator of a power region in Texas issues an Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 or 2.
- The Commission adopted amendments to the list of critical gas suppliers to exclude gas wells producing an average of 250 Mcf of natural gas per day or less and oil leases producing an average of 500 Mcf of natural gas per day or less.
- The Commission adopted amendments that clarify that certain facilities designated as critical may request an exception unless the facility is included on the electricity supply chain map. The amendments likewise clarify acceptable reasons for requesting an exception.
The new changes were adopted Nov. 1, will be published in the Texas Register on Nov. 18, and become effective on Nov. 21. More information about them can be found at the Railroad Commission website, including a PDF version of the rules at the link found here.
More information about “Load,” “Emergency Energy Alerts,” “McF” and other regulatory terms included in the new rules can be found in the online glossary found here.