The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is forecasting record power use this summer, but less than originally forecast. 

The grid operator, which manages the flow of power to 90%, or more than 26 million, Texas customers, has again updated the preliminary Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) report for summer, which initially predicted a 76,696 MW peak load from June-September. ERCOT decreased the expected peak load, in consideration of economic repercussions from coronavirus, to 75,200 MW, but the forecast is still almost 500 MW above the all-time peak demand record set late last summer.

Despite preparations, ERCOT said extreme weather, low wind output and higher-than-normal generation outages could prompt the need to declare some Energy Emergency Alerts. However, forecasts from ERCOT’s Capacity, Demand, and Reserves (CDR) Report showed load predictions from before Covid-19, as there is uncertainty as to how the pandemic would impact consumption. 

ERCOT said it “will continue to monitor changes and make adjustments as needed, and a special tab was created in the report to show how Covid-19 could impact peak demands and planning reserve margins through 2024.”

ERCOT’s Pete Warnken, manager of resource adequacy, indicated it is too early to provide exact predictions for oil and gas demand, although the lower rig count reports, indicated across the board by the state’s producers in 1Q2020 results, remain unchanged. 

The planning reserve margin for the summer of 2021 is predicted to be 17.3%. However, the margin is based on pre-coronavirus load assumptions of 78,299 MW. According to the CDR, the planning reserve margin is forecasted to increase to 19.7% in 2022, followed by a decrease to 18% in 2023. 

Project reports from generation developers have given preliminary data for the summer of 2021, showing planned capacity additions totaling 17,993 MW, some of which would be from small, flexible gas-fired sources. 

Since the December CDR, commercial operations for resources contributing 2,273 MW were approved by ERCOT, with summer peak capacity supplying 790 MW. New planned resources eligible for inclusion in the report since the last CDR now total 6,540 MW.