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Natural Gas Supply was cut by ERCOT Program during Winter Storm

During the extreme winter storm that triggered widespread blackouts by ERCOT across the state in February, a programme intended to conserve energy during times of high electricity demand actually shut off some of Texas’ natural gas supply to customers. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of the state’s power grid, has confirmed that it has enabled a programme that rewards major industrial power users for reducing their energy use during emergencies.

It’s a scheme similar to those used in other countries, in which utilities and grid operators incentivize factories and industrial buildings to reduce their power consumption, a condition that typically happens during the summer or winter. ERCOT, on the other hand, said it had no idea who was involved in the initiative or what kinds of facilities were being shut down.

ERCOT vice president of commercial operations, Kenan Ogelman, said, “We do not know what type of facility it is. We do know [a facility] has qualified and performed to the requirement because we test them, but we don’t know what it is they do.” As of year-end 2019, ERCOT recorded 447 industrial customers who had voluntarily installed automatic circuit devices to shut down power to their operations.

Natural gas infrastructure firms were among the facilities whose gas supply was cut, according to a Journal review of the grid data. This resulted in a further decrease in natural gas supply, resulting in a shortage during a time of severe cold when a larger supply was needed. Following the February storm, which left more than 4 million people without electricity for days, several lawsuits have been filed against ERCOT.

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