Public Utility Commission of Texas

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Critical Natural Gas

Background

In June 2021, the 87th Texas Legislature enacted House Bill (HB) 3648 requiring the Public Utility Commission and Railroad Commission of Texas to collaborate on rules regarding critical natural gas facilities and entities. Specifically, the agencies were tasked with establishing a process to designate certain natural gas facilities in Texas as critical customers during an energy emergency. On November 30, 2021, the Public Utility Commission and Railroad Commission separately adopted rules to codify HB 3648 and establish new regulations for electric utilities and natural gas entities to ensure critical natural gas facilities are appropriately identified.

The Public Utility Commission adopted amendments to 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §25.52, relating to Reliability and Continuity of Service. The rule provides standards regarding the provision and confidentiality of critical customer information for electric utilities. It also addresses the prioritization of critical natural gas facilities for load-shed and restoration planning during an energy emergency event.

The Railroad Commission adopted new TAC §3.65, relating to the Critical Designation of Natural Gas Infrastructure. The rule establishes critical designation criteria and timelines for operators of critical natural gas facilities to provide information to the electric utility. The Railroad Commission also adopted forms for the acknowledgement of critical customer/critical gas supplier designations and for a critical designation exception application.

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Information for Electric Utilities

All electric utilities, including municipally owned utilities and electric cooperatives, in the state of Texas are required to receive critical customer information from critical natural gas facilities. As the independent organization certified under PURA §39.151, ERCOT is also required to receive this information from natural gas facilities located in its region. The utility must evaluate the critical customer information for completeness and provide written notice to the operator regarding the status of its critical natural gas designation. A utility must incorporate critical natural gas facilities into its load-shed and restoration planning. Please review 16 TAC § 25.52(h).

The Public Utility Commission will maintain on its website a market directory of utility email addresses to be used for the provision of this information. Each utility must ensure that the email address listed on the Public Utility Commission's website is accurate. If the utility's email address changes or is inaccurate, the utility must provide the Public Utility Commission with an updated email address within five business days of the change or of becoming aware of the inaccuracy. Staff requests each utility submit initial contact information by December 29, 2021.

Information for Natural Gas Infrastructure

The Railroad Commission has established criteria for the designation of critical gas facilities where electricity is essential for the supplier to operate. During an energy emergency, critical gas facilities may be prioritized during electric utility load-shed and restoration planning for purposes of continued power delivery. Critical status does not however constitute a guarantee of an uninterrupted supply of energy. An operator of a critical natural gas facility must provide critical customer information to the utility from which it receives electric delivery service. Critical natural gas facilities located in the ERCOT region must also provide the critical customer information to ERCOT. Please review 16 TAC § 3.65 and 16 TAC § 25.52(h).

The Railroad Commission has adopted Form CI-D, Acknowledgement of Critical Customer/Critical Gas Supplier Designation, and an Excel Attachment to facilitate the provision of critical customer information. The operator will certify on Form CI-D that it has provided the critical customer information to its electric utility.

Initial filings, including submissions to the utility and ERCOT, must be made by January 15, 2022. Operators must update and refile with all parties by either September 1, 2022 or 30 days following the date the map is produced by the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee, whichever is later. Beginning in 2023, Form CI-D must be filed with all parties bi-annually by March 1 and September 1 of each year.