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Following the 2005 EPAct, the NERC is authorized to set mandatory reliability standards for power companies subject to FERC's jurisdiction.

Texas's ERCOT is itself not subject to FERC regs, but NERC has a "subsidiary" of sorts in Texas though, the Texas Reliability Entity; although it's a non-profit rather than a government agency (but that's also true for NERC), Texas RE does seem to have a state mandate:

The Texas Reliability Entity (Texas RE) is one of the regional electric reliability councils (Regional Entities) under North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) authority. Each Regional Entity is tasked with compliance, monitoring, and enforcement on the behalf of NERC to ensure bulk power system reliability. [...]

Users, owners, and operators within ERCOT are eligible for membership in Texas RE at no cost. [...]

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has authorized Texas RE to serve as its Reliability Monitor for the state of Texas and for ERCOT.

Does that mean that NERC reliability standards are (in theory) enforced in Texas by Texas RE? Basically what does Texas RE do exactly, in practice?

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Basically what does Texas RE do exactly, in practice?

As of November 2020, Nothing.

The Houston Chronicle reported on 21 February 2021 that

Late last year, as winter approached and power companies prepared for cold weather, Gov. Greg Abbott’s hand-picked utility regulators decided they no longer wanted to work with a nonprofit organization they had hired to monitor and help Texas enforce the state’s electric reliability standards.

The multiyear contract between the Public Utility Commission and the obscure monitoring organization, the Texas Reliability Entity, was trashed. Over the next months, right up until the crippling storm that plunged millions of Texans into the dark and cold, the state agency overseeing the power industry operated without an independent monitor to make sure energy companies followed state protocols, which include weatherization guidelines.

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  • Ha, ha. I expected the answer was an approximation of "not much" because they only seemed to have little activity as reported to the NERC (about $100K worth of penalties/fines issued on an enforcement budget of $10M), but this surely beats the expectation.
    – Fizz
    Feb 21 at 15:59
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Given that TRE was apparently not in much political favor given the 2020 developments (from David's answer), it's unclear how much of this was being carried out, but in their 2019 budget proposal TRE did mention enforcement of NERC standards as part of their activities:

Statutory Functional Scope

In accordance with its Delegation Agreement with NERC and in compliance with the NERC Rules of Procedure (NERC ROP), Texas RE performs the following statutory (or delegated) functions:

  • Participation in the development of NERC Reliability Standards, or modifications thereof, and facilitation of developing needed Regional Standards or variances through Texas RE’s Standards Development Process.
  • Identification and registration of responsible entities with NERC and, as needed, certification of such entities within the ERCOT region.
  • Monitoring and enforcement of compliance with approved NERC Reliability Standards and Regional Standards, in accordance with the NERC ROP, in the ERCOT region.
  • Analysis and assessment of system events and disturbances.
  • Assessment of the present and future reliability, adequacy, and security of the BPS.
  • Promotion of effective training and education of personnel, and assistance in the certification of operating personnel.
  • Promotion of situation awareness and the protection of critical infrastructure.

TRE was apparently authorized to assess some kind of fines, technically called "penalty sanctions", which amounted to about $114K up to mid 2018 ($80K of that was from a renewables company, apparently.) In the 2020 budget proposal those penalties went up to $700K (up to mid-2019), but the companies who paid them are no longer listed. (TRE's annual operating budget was about $14M in both periods, most of it from "NERC assessments", but I'm not exactly sure who paid those.)

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