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Most of Lubbock will join Texas’ electric grid this weekend despite some hesitations over its widespread failures during a deadly winter storm in February.
In the largest single transfer of customers in the history of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, 70% of Southwest Power Pool customers will transfer into the ERCOT region as part of a plan the city of Lubbock created in 2015 to switch electric grids. Lubbock residents will experience a short power outage during the actual transfer, said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT’s vice president of grid planning and operations.
“We look forward to welcoming (Lubbock Power and Light) customers into the ERCOT region where they can take advantage of our competitive wholesale power market and electric rates,” Rickerson said in a written statement.
Some Lubbock residents started questioning the grid transfer in February after seeing Texans on the ERCOT grid plunged into darkness for days during the winter storm. The state estimates that about 151 people died during the storm and accompanying power outages, but BuzzFeed News this week reported the death toll could be as high as 700.
State Sen. Charles Perry, who represents Lubbock, even suggested the city delay the change. But local city officials remained optimistic and said joining the grid would allow Lubbock residents to have access to a deregulated power market.
Lubbock officials initially planned to join ERCOT once a 15-year-long contract with Xcel Energy, a member of the Southwestern Public Service Company, expired. Left with the choice to build a new power plant or join ERCOT, officials decided ERCOT would give constituents more choices in their electric retailers.
Oncor, one of the largest electric retailers in Texas, constructed miles of new transmission lines to connect Lubbock to the grid.
In the meantime, state lawmakers have worked on sweeping legislation to reform ERCOT, including requiring power plants to “weatherize,” funding backup power for facilities like dialysis centers, and changing the structure of ERCOT’s governing board.
Lawmakers have the next three days to pass all remaining bills for the current legislative session and have several details to iron out in legislation responding to February’s power outages.
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