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ERCOT prepares for ‘very rare’ addition to grid with LP&L transition

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 5:16 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The transition of about 83,000 Lubbock Power & Light customers to the ERCOT grid over the Memorial Day weekend will be uncommon for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas but officials tell KCBD everything is going according to plan.

“Everything looks good,” Warren Lasher, Senior Director of System Planning at ERCOT, said. “The actual transmission circuits themselves are for the most part energized and operating correctly. So, now it’s just a matter of within the actual substations we call it a feeder, that’s the actual distribution line that goes from the substation out to homes and businesses. Each one of those individually has to be separated from its current connection and then reconnected into the ERCOT system.”

That will leave customers without power for about half an hour. Lasher said the operation has been studied for six years by engineers and regulatory analysts.

“Our expectation is that each individual customer will just experience 15 to 30 minutes of very short outage, and then there should be no change, absolutely no change in their service at all,” Lasher said.

Lasher told KCBD there have been studies about a decade ago about whether or not cities like Beaumont would come to the ERCOT grid but Lubbock is the latest to make the decision and calls it a, “very rare occurrence.”

He also called the impact of February’s winter storm on the ERCOT grid a rare incident and believes it should not be something LP&L customers should worry about.

“It was a tragic, traumatic event back in February,” Lasher said. “I would say it’s an extremely rare occurrence. At different levels, at the legislature, at the Public Utility Commission, and at the ERCOT level there are lessons that are being learned and being incorporated into how to make sure that never happens again.”

Some of those lessons have been incorporated into ERCOT’s summer energy demand forecast, which shows an expected record-breaking demand. Lasher said LP&L customer demand has been part of ERCOT assessments since the PUC made its formal regulatory decision to allow the transition.

“The economy continues to grow and that’s reflected in the growth in customer demand,” Lasher said. “At the same time, we have significant interest in new resources here in Texas, which is exceeding the actual growth in customer demand. Our recent reports show that. Above and beyond that growth in customer demand, there are companies that are investing in solar facilities, gas facilities, wind facilities across the state of Texas.”

He believes Lubbock’s investment in new electrical infrastructure for this transition will also add to the reliability of the grid.

“This new transmission capacity that has been built for this project is going to provide benefits both to the Lubbock Power & Light customers and to the ERCOT region as a whole,” Lasher said.

To find out when you might be affected by the switch, click here.

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