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ERCOT: Texas Grid is Prepared for Summer Electricity Demand

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The Lone Star State’s electricity grid is ready for summer.

Last week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – which operates most of the state’s power grid – released its final Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the summer months. The report – which forecasts seasonal peak demand based on average weather patterns from the past 13 years and analyzes the region's anticipated generating capacity – projects that ERCOT will have sufficient generation capacity from June through September.

According to the report, this summer’s peak demand is forecasted to hit 70,588 megawatts (MW) while ERCOT's total generating resources will be 78,434 MW. That leaves an operating reserve of about 7,846 MW.

What does the assessment mean for customers in the ERCOT region?

On a basic level, it means that many Texas homes and businesses should receive reliable power service this summer. However, while the current summer outlook remains relatively strong, there are still some potential uncertainties. As ERCOT noted in its SARA report, there is a risk of entering an Energy Emergency Alert in scenarios with extreme load – such as the one experienced in summer 2011 – combined with transmission outages, low wind output or extreme generation outages.

"We expect to have enough generation available to serve consumer needs this summer, based on the current forecast," ERCOT’s Director of System Planning Warren Lasher noted. "However, hotter-than-normal weather combined with low-wind conditions or high generation outage rates could cause operating reserves to drop below target levels, making it necessary to take additional actions to maintain grid reliability."

Looking beyond this summer, ERCOT sees a similar long-term story: sufficient reserve margins with some uncertainties. The Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) report – which provides a snapshot of both existing and planned resources and forecasts load for the next decade – shows that the reserve margin remains above the 13.75 percent target at 15 percent through 2026.

There are a few uncertainties not mentioned in the CDR, such as the proposed integration of Lubbock Power and Light in 2019. Additionally, ERCOT continues to analyze the potential impact of environmental regulations on resource adequacy, acknowledging that several units currently included in the CDR may be retired within the next few years.

You can read ERCOT's full reports here. For more information on latest regulatory and policy developments in Texas, check out this month’s update.

Posted: May 09, 2016