From RTO Insider:

Kevin Gresham and Beth Garza are not overly concerned with ERCOT’s conservation call issued on Monday in the wake of unexpected outages at several thermal generation plants in the state. (See Generation Outages Force ERCOT Conservation Alert.)

Another difference: Summertime peaks are more transitory, said Garza, former director of ERCOT’s Independent Market Monitor. “It gets hot in the late afternoon, then builds to a peak, and then the sun will set; it will get cooler,” she said. “Winter is different. It gets cold, stays cold and nighttime gets colder, and you have competition for natural gas.

“It’s time for ERCOT to think about winter differently than summer and its different emergency procedures. You need more notice; you have to take actions earlier in the winter,” said Garza, now a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a nonprofit policy research organization.

Garza quickly nailed down three causes of the February blackouts. First, she said, was the lack of winterization across the power system — not only with transmission and generation facilities, but with homes, transportation and natural gas. Other contributing factors were the “dysfunctional” codependence of the electricity and natural gas industries, and “unbridled” reliance on markets during a clear emergency in which they were ineffective.

Both Garza and Gresham are taking a wait-and-see approach to the new legislation that came after February’s severe winter weather left hundreds dead and an estimated 4.5 million customers without power across the state. (See Texas Legislators Finish Work on Electricity Market – for Now.)

Garza believes the laws will catalyze change, whether good or bad. “It is what it is, and we need to go forward with it,” she said.

“Continual service of electricity is a physical phenomenon; legislation is words written on paper,” Garza said. “Writing words is not going to necessarily directly affect the physical phenomenon. It takes time to get rules in place.”

Garza said her stock answer to that question is “maybe.”

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