September 2, 2014

ERCOT sees ample electric capacity for fall, winter

ERCOT says Texas has added 2,100 megawatts of generating capacity in the past year and should have enough electricity to meet peak demand in the fall and winter.

Texas should have more than enough electricity to keep its lights on this fall and winter, according to the operator of the power grid covering most of the state.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas released two reliability forecasts Tuesday — a final assessment for the fall and a preliminary outlook for the winter. Both estimates, which looked at weather patterns and new sources of generation, said the grid should have enough electricity to meet the state’s biggest demands and avoid the threat of rolling blackouts — a condition the state narrowly escaped last winter.

The grid will have more than 75,500 megawatts of generation available this fall — 2,100 megawatts more than a year ago — while peak demand is expected to hover around 48,700 megawatts, according to the analysis.

Considering that some generation may, at times, be taken offline for routine maintenance or an unexpected outage, the council expects its power reserves to range from 2,600 megawatts to 14,000 megawatts throughout the fall.

The council expects to have enough generation during the winter unless a huge spike in demand coincided with unexpected “extreme fuel supply restrictions that affected generation availability.”

Last winter, ERCOT was a step away from issuing rolling blackouts after the bone-chilling “polar vortex” knocked two North Texas power plants offline just as residents began turning up the heat and revving up power use. Peak demand on the grid set a new record for the winter, and an unusually chilly March shattered the previous record for that month.

“Last winter’s extreme weather did prove challenging, both for generation resources and the transmission system,” Ken McIntyre, the council’s vice president of grid planning and operations, said in a news release. “Generation providers in the ERCOT region have continued to improve their weatherization practices, and we continue to evaluate possible impacts associated with fuel supply restrictions to generators, drought conditions and environmental regulatory changes.”

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