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Winter is Just Around the Corner

Preparing for the 2022 cold weather season

The impact severe cold weather systems can have on reliability of the regional bulk power system was identified as a top reliability risk in MRO’s 2022 Regional Risk Assessment.

Although weather-related risks have been a primary focus area for the ERO Enterprise for some time, the devastation winter storm Uri caused in 2021 has accelerated efforts to mitigate cold weather risk. Winter storm Uri necessitated NERC’s implementation of Project 2021-07 Extreme Cold Weather Grid Operations, Preparedness, and Coordination. The purpose of this project is to address reliability findings from the joint FERC, NERC, and Regional Entity Joint staff inquiry into the February 2021 storm Uri event. Phase 1 of the project includes four recommendations from the joint report and is under NERC Board of Trustee review. The four recommendations are:

  1. GO Corrective Action Plans (1d)
  2. Revise GO training requirements to require annual training (1e)
  3. GO operation to specific ambient temperature and weather conditions (1f)
  4. TO, TOP, and DP separation of circuits used for manual load shed (1j)

These recommendations will be introduced as revisions to Reliability Standards EOP-012-1 and EOP-011-3. 

As part of the ERO Enterprise’s cold weather preparedness efforts, MRO has expanded its Generator Winterization Program (GWP). MRO’s regional footprint spans the middle section of North America—encompassing all or parts of 16 states and two Canadian provinces—from Saskatchewan and Manitoba all the way down to the northern part of Texas. The upper Midwest portion of MRO’s region is accustomed to preparing for severe cold weather given the geographic location of assets and climate history. The Southern portion, however, is not typically affected by severe cold weather and was unfortunately heavily impacted by Uri in 2021.

The purpose of MRO’s GWP is to assess winter weatherization practices and share information, best practices, and lessons learned with stakeholders across MRO’s regional footprint. In 2022, the program includes six generation facility site visits, with three of those visits targeting the southern portion of MRO’s region.

On September 12, 2022, NERC issued a NERC Alert level II for Balancing Authorities (BA), Generator Owners (GO), Reliability Coordinators (RC), and Transmission Operators (TOP) related to cold weather preparedness. The alert seeks to raise awareness of extreme cold weather events and better understand how entities are planning for, and mitigating, the risk of severe cold weather. A similar alert was released last year, but this year’s alert was expanded to include eight recommendations instead of five. The alert targets different audiences based on risk and includes separate questions for RCs, BAs, GOs and TOPs.

A few examples of the questions include:

  1. “Do you provide training to your system operators on extreme winter weather preparedness?”
  2. “Do you perform operator training of firm load shed scenarios to protect critical natural gas infrastructure customers?”
  3. “If you own wind-powered units, are the units equipped with cold weather packages?” 

Final responses are due to NERC by October 6, 2022.

MRO’s Reliability Advisory Council is hosting a Cold Weather Preparedness Workshop on October 12, 2022. This virtual workshop will include presentations from Southwest Power Pool, Montana-Dakota Utilities, and Manitoba Hydro. Other topics include an update on the 2021-07 Extreme Cold Weather Project, the April 2022 blizzard (Dakotas), and how Canadian entities prepare for and operate in extreme cold weather.

The workshop is geared toward sharing lessons learned across the region and zeroing in on best practices that ensure bulk power system reliability during extreme cold weather events. Below are links to more information on the 2021-07 Extreme Cold Weather Project and the recent NERC Alert that was issued.

Project 2021-07 Extreme Cold Weather Grid Operations, Preparedness, and Coordination (

Report on NERC Level 2 Industry Recommendation – Cold Weather Preparations for Extreme Weather Events

– Bryan Clark, P.E., Director of Reliability Analysis