[TR, Volume 46, Number 40]
On October 1, 2021, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) published in the Texas Register proposed regulations for implementing Senate Bill 3 (SB3) and House Bill 3648 (HB3648). These bills are titled, “Critical Designation of Natural Gas Infrastructure.” In the preamble, the RRC stated these proposed regulations are the first of a series of new regulations needed to implement SB3 and HB3648. This proposal sets up the process for the identification of critical infrastructure and gas customers. The proposal also includes new definitions for: Energy Emergency, Weather Emergency and Critical Customer Information. The proposed regulations would be included in 16 TAC Chapter 3 (§3.65 and §3.107). The new definitions are:
- An Energy emergency is defined as an event that will or can result in load shedding. Load shedding events are still under the control of the organization identified in the Texas Utility Code.
- A Weather emergency is defined as any weather event that will or may result in an Energy emergency.
- Critical customer information is defined as the information listed on the new RRC Table CCI. The Table CCI identifies facilities that cover the entire natural gas production process for the well head, through processing, transportation and delivery, as well as ancillary activities such as saltwater disposal well, and then any other facility not identified but necessary to operate one of the identified facilities.
The process for identifying critical infrastructure begins with completing either a Critical Infrastructure Designation form (CI-D), or a Critical Infrastructure Exemption Application (CI-X). All operators of facilities identified in the definition of critical infrastructure must complete one or both forms for their facilities. These forms will be due for submittal on January 15, 2022 with the next submittal due September 1, 2022. Subsequent submittals will be due September 1 and March 1 every year.
Operators of critical facilities that do not believe the facility is prepared to operate in a weather emergency are to complete the CI-X, file with the RRC and pay the $150 application fee. These facilities will not be identified as critical customers for load shedding during an Energy emergency. A single CI-X listing all the operator’s facilities (as an attachment) is acceptable instead of a CI-X for each facility.
Operators of critical facilities that want to be designated as critical customers are to complete the CI-D. There is no fee. There are several certifications to be signed. The first is that the information on the form and the attached list of critical facilities is correct. The second is that the critical facility list has been submitted to the facility’s electric utility.
If an operator fails to file a CI-D or CI-X, the RRC may fine the operator $1,000 per violation. If the operator fails to provide critical customer information to the facility’s electric utility, the RRC may fine the operator $2,500 per violation.
The comment period for these proposed regulations ends November 1, 2021. Comments may be submitted by mail or electronic submission using one of the following methods: via US Mail to Rules Coordinator, Office of General Counsel, Railroad Commission of Texas, PO Box 12967, Austin, TX 78711-2967; Electronically by posting to the RRC website; or by Email.
A rulemaking workshop concerning these proposed regulations was held on October 5 in Austin, Texas. To view the proposed rule and forms and submit comments online by Monday, November 1, 2021, visit the RRC website under “Chapter 3: Oil and Gas” and review the proposed form amendments here.