March 6, 2019 Read More →

Texas grid operator warns of tight summer electricity supplies

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

Officials at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in a March 5 media call said the record-low margin between supply and growing demand for electricity will increase the likelihood of rotating power outages in the summer of 2019.

The forecast 7.4% margin between available power generation capacity and peak demand, known as the reserve margin, is lower than previous estimates for the summer. The margin, previewed in the grid operator’s preliminary assessment of resource adequacy for the summer, is well below the minimum target established by ERCOT’s board of 13.75%.

The reserve margin in summer 2018 hit 11%.

Tight market conditions have caused planners at the grid operator to brace for energy alert conditions that could trigger a variety of measures to maintain operating reserves, including contracting for emergency resources, pulling power from outside ERCOT’s service territory, voltage reductions and calls for customers to take voluntary electricity conservation measures.

Between 2016 and March 2019, ERCOT set 16 new monthly peak demand records. Total resource capacity for the upcoming summer is expected to be 78,154 MW. ERCOT forecasts 74,853 MW of summer peak load, based on peak weather conditions from 2003 to 2017.

Since October 2018, 119 MW of new gas resources, 227 MW of wind resources and 151 MW of solar resources entered commercial operation in ERCOT’s territory, according to the March 5 report. Yet record electricity demand, delays in 500 MW of planned wind projects in the Texas Panhandle and the planned retirement of the 470-MW Gibbons Creek coal plant will contribute to the lower summertime reserve margins, ERCOT officials said. Nevertheless, they expressed confidence in the grid, saying that there’s no specific indication of emergency conditions for the summer unless extreme weather events occur.

More ($): Record-low reserve margins put ERCOT on summer alert

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