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ERCOT expects record-breaking demand for electricity this summer in Texas

‘Risk for emergency conditions remains low’
ERCOT"s control room.
ERCOT"s control room.(ERCOT)
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 11:34 AM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) - The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which operates most of the state’s electric grid, is expecting record-breaking demand for power this summer because of anticipated hot and dry conditions and economic and population growth.

ERCOT officials expect to have enough generation capacity to meet a peak demand of 77,144 MW this summer, as compared to the previous peak of 74,820 MW on Aug. 12, 2019, and, based on the forecast, expect to have a 15.7% reserve margin, ERCOT said in a press release Thursday.

“While the risk for emergency conditions remains low this summer based on many of the scenarios studied, a combination of factors in real time, including record demand, high thermal generation outages and low wind/solar output could result in tight grid conditions,” ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson said.

“We cannot control the weather or forced generation outages, but we are prepared to deploy the tools that are available to us to maintain a reliable electric system,” he said.

In the wake of the widespread and protracted outages during the February freeze, ERCOT added extreme scenarios in its summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy that are possible, but improbable with less than a 1% chance they would actually occur, “to ensure all market participants and government officials have a comprehensive view into market conditions,” the grid operator said in a press release Thursday.

Those scenarios involve situations in which generation units are unavailable during periods of peak demand.

As the mix of methods of generation changes in the state, ERCOT says, tight gird conditions, historically linked to the hours of highest consumption, may also result from low wind conditions or during the early evening hours when solar resources are offline, but increased storage battery capacity may help mitigate some of the risk.

ERCOT officials are taking the additional step of visiting some of the state’s power plants to evaluate summer weatherization plans.

Such visits are made to assess wither weatherization, but this is the first time plans will be evaluated ahead of the summer season.

ERCOT is also monitoring drought conditions, but says drought doesn’t now pose a significant risk.

Generation should also be sufficient to meet demand this fall, ERCOT said Thursdsay.

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