A new report addressing the lessons learned from February's ice storm will be issued in January by the Public Service Commission.
Central District Commissioner Brent Bailey said the commission might conduct a work session open to the public in January with utility officials to discuss the report.
The main focus of the review will be the reliability of the electric grid and the impact of Entergy's membership in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) regional transmission organization, a non-profit that delivers electricity to 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.
Mississippi Power, the state's other investor-owned utility, doesn't belong to a RTO.
Bailey says the commission doesn't require the two investor-owned utilities to keep track of outages and repair times, but the commission might consider such a regulation in the wake of the ice storm.
He said the state's utilities make reports to the North American Energy Reliability Council and that'd be data that the PSC could easily obtain.
"I believe that the utilities, all of them in general, do a really good job of protecting the integrity of the transmission network because those are the ones where something happens and a lot of people are impacted," Bailey said. "And, and you know, it's not as easy to do a quick repair and restoration on those as it is the line in the front yard.
So they annually assess the full transmission network and do risk-based analysis on what upgrades or repairs replacements are needed."
He said that the commission and the utilities are reconsidering their approaches with the frequency and intensity of severe weather events, such as ice storms, tornadoes and hurricanes.
While hurricanes, tornadoes and other severe weather can damage the transmission infrastructure, ice storms can not only do that, but the extreme cold can result in huge loads placed on generation capacity. When the system is overwhelmed like that, rolling blackouts might be the only way for utilities to handle the strain on the system.
Similar cold-weather events have also occurred in 2011 and 2014.
The commission is already reviewing Entergy's membership in MISO and whether it benefits ratepayers.
The storm in mid-February also crippled the power grid of Texas, causing widespread outages.According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, 71 of the 185 major disturbances charted by the agency in 2021 were related to the ice storm.
On February 16, the MISO South Region — which includes all of Entergy's subsidiaries, Louisiana utility Cleco, and Cooperative Energy that serve parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas — began planned outages in its service footprint. The RTO adjusts the output of electric generation throughout its service area to meet demand for all of its members. This interconnection also allows utilities to purchase generation capacity from those with a surplus when needed.
Bailey said new technology (such as fiber-optic lines installed by utilities), new substations and regular replacement of infrastructure, such as poles and transformers, can help with outages.
Those investments, he said, helped Mississippi Power restore power quickly after Hurricane Ida made landfall in southern Louisiana and tracked into Mississippi.
Entergy agreed to join MISO in 2013 as part of a deal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to divest its transmission network.