electric lines

A new Electricity Supply Chain Map of critical infrastructure shows where the state’s power is created, delivered and stored.

A new Electricity Supply Chain Map of critical infrastructure shows where the state’s power is created, delivered and stored, as Texas officials attempt to get a better hold on electricity generation and how it moves throughout the state.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas held a public meeting Tuesday to provide general information on the map's components but said the actual map will not be made public for security reasons.

The map includes the locations of compressor stations, processing plants, underground storage, and transmission and distribution pipelines - all critical to the state’s electricity supply chain. Other layers include Texas Department of Emergency Management regions and districts, electric transmission and distribution lines, substations, electric generating plants and real-time weather information, said Therese Harris, program specialist in the Infrastructure Division at PUCT.

Harris added that it is a “living” map that will be refined and updated at least twice a year — before winter and before hurricane season.

“We're confident that the map will be a useful tool as Texas faces future emergency conditions,” Harris said.

The creation and building of the map was directed by state legislators following the deadly and costly 2021 winter storm where a near collapse of the state’s electric grid left millions without water and electricity for days amid freezing temperatures. It was built in collaboration between the PUCT, the Railroad Commission, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

State electricity leaders said state emergency management officials will use the map during weather emergencies and disasters to pinpoint the location of critical electric and natural gas facilities and provide emergency contact information for those facilities.

The map was officially adopted in late April, about four months ahead of the Sept. 1 deadline.

“The idea behind this is whenever there is the need, whether there's an emergency — obviously tomorrow we start hurricane season … — the information on this map will be extremely important to the folks in the state operation center as they endeavor to get us through those crises,” said Thomas Gleeson, Public Utility Commission of Texas executive director and chairman of the mapping committee.

Gleeson added the committee will continue to hold annual public meetings on updates made to the map, prior to the start of each hurricane season. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to the end of November.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an above average hurricane season this year. It is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms, or storms with winds 39 mph or higher, with six to 10 of those becoming hurricanes. In addition, it is predicting with 70% confidence that three to six of the storms will be deemed major hurricanes — of category three or higher.

Agencies are also working to establish weatherization standards to be adopted by the PUCT commission by the end of summer with the hopes they would be implemented by summer 2023. The standards would ensure that critical facilities, already located through the map, are better prepared for extreme weather conditions.

“Weatherization and [the] map go hand-in-hand in terms of [preparation], response and recovery from emergencies,” said RJ DeSilva, communications director for the RRC. “From a regulatory agency perspective, not only do we know where these critical facilities are, we know they’re weatherized and they're much better prepared for the extreme weather conditions that may come.”

Trending Video

Recommended for you