Here’s the opening line by the Texas Chamber of Commerce in anybids to lure West Coast business: by this summer, the completionand continued construction of new generation plants in Texas willcreate an electricity supply about 23% higher than peak demand.

“With all these new power plants, Texas is a buyer’s market,”said Pat Wood III, chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission.”It’s great news for electric customers as we open our markets toretail competition.”

Statewide, firm electric demand in Texas is expected to reach67,000 MW by this summer. However, the total generation capacityshould exceed 83,000 MW for a 23% reserve margin, PUC reports.

Within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. (ERCOT),the bulk electric system that serves about 85% of the state’selectric load, firm peak demand is projected to reach almost 56,500MW this summer while installed capacity will exceed 70,700 MW.ERCOT maintains the state’s transmission system and has severalmajor transmission projects under way to relieve existingconstraints and connect new power plants to the system.

In Texas, retail electric competition begins Jan. 1, 2002 forcustomers of investor-owned utilities. However, a pilot project isonly a few months away — it begins June 1 for selected areas ofthe state. Under the Texas plan, municipal utilities and electriccooperatives will have the option of participating in retailcompetition, too.

Since open transmission access and wholesale competition beganin Texas in 1995, nearly 50 new plants are either completed orunder construction. More than 25 additional generation projectshave been announced as well. The new plants all together will addmore than 21,000 MW of capacity by the summer of 2002, which isenough to power five million Texas homes on the hottest summer day,PUC said.

Texans also benefit from a diversified power supply. Nearly 46%of the electricity in the state is natural gas-fired, and coal andTexas lignite supply another 41%. The remaining 13% comes fromnuclear plants. Although renewable energy supplies less than 1% ofthe state’s electricity, there are more than 20 wind projectsproposed for West Texas with several already under construction.

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