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ERCOT expects to have adequate supplies this fall and winter

From the September 9, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published September 9, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) expects to have enough power available to serve peak demand needs this coming fall and winter, even in the event of extreme weather or an unusually high number of forced generation outages. A year ago, the grid operator warned of the possibility of rotating outages during the 2012-2013 winter.

"The system appears to be well-prepared for fall electric needs, and that outlook continues into the coming winter months," said ERCOT Director of System Planning Warren Lasher as he summed up the final fall and preliminary winter Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy reports issued Sept. 3.

The fall assessment projects about 74,000 megawatts of generation will be available to serve about 47,000 MW of anticipated peak demand needs during October and November. Based on the current weather outlook and average plant outages during fall peak demand hours over the past five years, ERCOT expects to have nearly 20,000 MW of capacity available for operating reserves. That range could drop to just under 4,600 MW in an extreme-load and high-outage scenario, ERCOT said.

A preliminary winter assessment projects a similar outlook for the December-February period. Currently, ERCOT expects more than 75,000 MW of generation will be available to serve anticipated peak demand during the winter months. Based on a model that anticipates weather similar to 2009, electric demand is expected to stay at 48,000 MW or less this winter, the regional transmission organization said. If outages are typical this winter, the grid operator expects to have 21,899 MW of operating reserves. A combination of extreme demand and a large amount of unexpected outages could reduce operating reserves to 3,797 MW, ERCOT said.

Peak demand during the 2013 summer so far has remained below historical records, ERCOT said. The peak so far this year occurred on Aug. 7, at 67,180 MW, higher than the 2012 peak of 66,548 MW, but well below ERCOT’s Aug. 3, 2011, record of 68,305 MW. "We have seen predominantly mild weather this year, with some exceptions this summer," said ERCOT Meteorologist Chris Coleman. "Some hot temperatures are likely through early fall, with cooler-than-normal temperatures expected in November."

Although drought conditions continue to affect water storage levels in much of the state, generators in ERCOT do not expect the ongoing drought to affect operations during the coming fall and winter months, the grid operator said. "We will continue to monitor the potential impact of drought conditions on power plant operations," said Lasher. "Fortunately, we do not expect drought-related operational problems during the coming months."


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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

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Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro