Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the extent of updates from winterizing at the VH Braunig factory
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KXAN) – A viral post about the use of duct tape in a San Antonio generator has shed light on its winterization efforts, which go far beyond just using this substance known to “fix everything”.
As part of $2 million upgrades to its plants to meet state weatherization standards after the historic winter storm of 2021, CPS Energy recently took members of the San Antonio media around its plant VH Braunig to show them improvements. About a third of those funds went to weatherization of that plant.
Lindsay Carnett and Mark Wagner of the nonprofit publication San Antonio Report were on tour, and some of what they saw were greenhouse-like structures held together by America’s favorite adhesive – tape. adhesive.
wagner tweeted pictures and said they were “temporary enclosures which appeared to be secured with tape and heated by a portable heater”. The tweet has been retweeted more than 500 times since Wagner posted it on Wednesday night.
CPS Energy told KXAN that some weatherization measures, like this one, are not permanent but seasonal because during the summer the plant has to cool down because it is too hot. When it’s cold, like it was this week, some of that gear needs light protection, as the tweet shows.
He also explained that bigger improvements have also been implemented in his factories, including the construction of more than 100 permanent structures around other equipment and a heating line tracing system, which automatically indicates when the temperature falls below a certain degree if the system protecting the water pipes is working. He also placed additional heaters and protective barriers where needed.
Officials told Carnett that this was the first phase of weatherization improvements and that he plans to spend between $150 million and $200 million over the next five years, according to the report.
“Wintering efforts will continue as part of our recently approved rate increase,” he said in a statement. “Thirty-one million dollars of the revenue from the increase is being allocated to infrastructure resilience, power generation and distribution projects to support operations during extreme weather conditions.”
This plant is not the only one to have reinforced its weatherization following the winter storms of last February.
Hundreds of transmission and power generation entities had to submit winter weather preparedness plans to the Public Utilities Commission by Dec. 1 after Texas utility regulators put in place extensive weather protection requirements. All but one had submitted plans by December 10.
On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott and state energy leaders assured people that the state “is ready for this storm.” Earlier Thursday, he signed a disaster proclamation for the 17 counties most affected by the winter storm.
Abbott and energy leaders said Texas’ energy grid is “working very well” and they don’t expect normal grid operations to be interrupted by the storm.