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ERCOT Foresees Enough Power to Meet Texas Summer Demand Peaks

Summer is coming to Texas, and so is the potential for new power generation demand records in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for most of the state.

“We set a new summer peak demand record last year, and we may set another new record this year,” said ERCOT’s Warren Lasher, senior director of system planning. “ERCOT’s peak demand surpassed 70,000 MW five times in 2016 and peaked at 71,110 MW on Aug. 11.

“At this time, we do not anticipate any generation resource adequacy issues during the coming months, although we could see a need for conservation in the case of extended extreme temperatures or very low wind generation output during peak conditions.”

The newly released Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the summer includes a peak demand forecast nearing 73,000 (MW) based on average peak weather conditions during the past 14 years. The summer period runs from June through September.

Total generation resource capacity for the summer is estimated at close to 82,000 MW, including nearly 2,500 MW of planned natural gas-fired generation. It also includes about 800 MW of wind and grid-scale solar additions that, combined, are expected to contribute about 350 MW over summer peak hours.

ERCOT also said there should be enough installed generation capacity to serve system needs this fall, October through November. The preliminary fall SARA report forecasts peak demand of about 56,000 MW, with expected generation resources totaling nearly 87,000 MW. The final fall SARA report is to be released in September.

Further, ERCOT’s Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) Report  for the coming years continues to show sufficient reserve margins, the grid operator said Tuesday. It includes a snapshot of planned resource additions during the next five years, along with current information about existing generation resources and the annually updated peak demand forecast for the next 10 years.

The 2018 summer planning reserve margin is projected at 18.9%, which is slightly lower than the projection reported in the December 2016 CDR report because of schedule adjustments for some planned generation additions. The latest CDR report shows planning reserve margins “well above” 16% for the next five years and exceeding 18% for four of those years, ERCOT said.

“For each of the past two years, we received more than 75 interconnection requests from developers who are considering new projects in the ERCOT region,” Lasher said. “While many move through the interconnection process and get built, a number of others do not.”

Since the December CDR report, newly added wind and grid-scale solar generation resources total nearly 1,800 MW, with anticipated peak capacity contributions of more than 400 MW in 2018. More than 10,000 MW of planned resources, with anticipated summer peak capacity of almost 5,500 MW, also are included for 2018.

Planned resources increase to nearly 16,000 MW by summer 2019, with a combined anticipated summer capacity contribution totaling about 7,800 MW. The outlook also reflects plans to mothball one plant indefinitely, resulting in a capacity reduction of 840 MW beginning in 2019, ERCOT said.

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