CenterPoint Energy has made preparations for the potential impact from cold temperatures that might affect the region during the remaining winter months. The company is focused on service reliability and continuously prepares for seasonal weather events.
“From cold fronts to hurricanes, we are constantly monitoring weather conditions that could impact our ability to serve our customers. Our preparations take place year-round in anticipation of the various potential seasonal events that occur in our area,” said Scott Doyle, Executive Vice President, Utility Operations. “Whenever severe weather is expected, we begin preparations, start executing on established restoration plans, and deploy the necessary personnel, resources and equipment to restore electricity and natural gas service as safely and quickly as possible.”
Doyle added, “Since the February 2021 winter storm, we have taken additional steps and measures to ensure that we are ready and prepared for winter weather across greater Houston and surrounding communities.”
Some of CenterPoint Energy’s winter weather preparations include:
Completed additional emergency preparedness training to ensure personnel are ready to respond to extreme events.
Worked with suppliers to ensure necessary materials for restoration efforts.
Hardened transmission system to enhance resiliency.
Undergone additional thorough inspections to ensure electrical facilities, including substations and main feeder lines, are ready for high demand and cooler temperatures. This is in addition to regularly scheduled facility inspections and maintenance.
- Completed field inspections in accordance with Winter Weather Readiness requirements from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and recent legislation.
- Complied with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, North American Electric Reliability Corporation, Railroad Commission of Texas and PUCT, following all weatherization rules.
- Met with regulators, local and state elected officials, and emergency management personnel across its service territory to better understand community needs, including communications, response plans and critical facility designations.
- Expanded customer weatherization programs targeted toward limited and low- income households.
- Deployed a voluntary load management program to reduce non-residential customers’ electric consumption for short periods during emergency events so more residential power can remain on.
- Leveraged enhanced system load rotation automation technology to allow customers to have more regular and predictable outage intervals should a load shed event occur.
- Received and processed more than 100 critical load applications related to the natural gas industry since the February 2021 winter storm.
- Coordinated communications plan in place to inform customers about weather conditions, potential impact on service, and the company’s restoration efforts to its customers through various channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Power Alert Service,Outage Tracker and its website.
In addition, the Texas Legislature passed several new laws in 2021 that provide Transmission and Distribution Utilities (TDUs), like CenterPoint Energy, with new capabilities to further improve reliable energy delivery for their customers, including temporary, limited emergency energy generation during certain widespread outages, as described below.
CenterPoint Energy has entered into lease agreements with Life Cycle Power, a company that employs a diverse fleet of mobile dual-fuel turbine generators, for emergency back-up generation resources. Through the agreements, CenterPoint Energy will receive up to approximately 500 megawatts of total capacity to be deployed across its greater Houston electric footprint. The mobile generation would support the grid and could allow up to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, that could otherwise be without power, to have electricity during an extreme emergency event.
CenterPoint Energy President and CEO Dave Lesar said, “We have made and will continue to make prudent, strategic investments to support of the safety, reliability and resiliency of our systems for the benefit of our customers and communities.”
Lesar added, “As the ‘poles and wires’ company that delivers energy to our customers, the temporary back-up mobile generation resources will be critical in aiding our ability to continue serving customers during future widespread power outages from weather events or other unanticipated widespread outages across our electric footprint here in Texas. They will also help us to support ERCOT when it calls for a load shed event and ultimately help our customers.”
Under the new statute, a “widespread power outage” is an event that results in a loss of electric power that affects a significant number of distribution customers of a TDU; that has lasted or is expected to last for at least eight hours; and that results in a risk to public safety. TDUs may use temporary back-up generation resources during widespread power outages in which ERCOT has ordered a TDU to shed load or the TDU’s distribution facilities are not being fully served by the bulk power system under normal operations.
The company’s natural gas system performed very well during the February 2021 winter storm, with customers experiencing minimal impact. As part of its continuous improvement efforts, CenterPoint Energy also took additional steps to enhance natural gas service reliability in the greater Houston area and surrounding communities:
- Reinforced natural gas system with multiple reliability and capacity improvement projects.
- Identified and assigned technicians to key stations ahead of cold weather events.
- Adjusted locations of electronic pressure monitoring devices to monitor system low points, based on customer growth.
- Added a fourth propane-air peak shaving facility to supplement natural gas supply to CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas distribution system, enhancing reliability for customers during periods of peak demand.
- Coordinated with the Texas Energy Reliability Council and Railroad Commission of Texas to identify and ensure operations of critical gas infrastructure for natural gas and electric grid reliability.
CenterPoint Energy continues to encourage customers to have an emergency plan, especially if they depend on electricity for life-sustaining equipment and natural gas or electricity to heat their homes.
For the latest information on power outages:
Sign up for Power Alert Service for information on individual outages;
Follow @cnpalertsand visit Outage Tracker for general outage locations; and
Visit CenterPointEnergy.com/StormCenter for electric and natural gas safety tips and other resources.