Questions about enforcement and transparency remain as state designates “critical infrastructure”
This week Commission Shift and Texans for Public Justice published a report detailing the Railroad Commission’s (RRC) progress in designating “critical infrastructure” facilities on the natural gas supply chain.
The deadly freeze of February took out much of Texas’ electric grid. A major contributing factor was inadequate weatherization of the natural gas infrastructure like wellheads and pipelines that provide 46% of the energy running through the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid.
As part of the Texas Legislature’s response to Winter Storm Uri, Senate Bill 3 directed the Railroad Commission to issue rules to designate some natural gas facilities as “critical infrastructure.” These facilities will eventually be subject to weatherization requirements and, where possible, will be protected from future blackouts.
Now there is a new Electricity Supply Chain Map that shows which facilities are designated as critical, though the map is not available to the public - not even to legislators.
The Railroad Commission is expected to release draft natural-gas weatherization rules at its June 7th Open Meeting and to adopt final rules by the end of summer, well ahead of the winter. Public Utility Commission of Texas Executive Director Thomas Gleeson said the rules will help the grid endure both winter and summer emergencies.
The Electricity Supply Chain Map will be updated twice per year. Gleeson said that the public is welcome to provide feedback to the mapping committee even though citizens cannot see its handiwork.
Those wishing to participate in the Railroad Commission’s June 7th Open Meeting must register by noon CT on June 6th (see instructions on the agenda). Commissioners need not call on people who register to comment on an agenda item. They do typically allow comment on items that are not on the agenda during the Public Input section.