ERCOT Board moves to improve future generation outlook

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) Board of Directors at its April 2012 meeting focused on the need for adequate electric generation resources, both to serve immediate needs this summer and to prepare for future growth within the grid that handles about 85 percent of the electricity used in Texas.

With ERCOT’s projected reserve margin — the amount of electricity that is expected to exceed peak demand — hovering just over its 13.75 percent target for the upcoming summer,  the ERCOT board has made resource adequacy its highest priority.

“With an issue as important as this one is, we must be sure to have access to the best information and analysis available,” said ERCOT Board Chair Craven Crowell. “We face a complex challenge, and we need to get all good ideas on the table.”

To that end, the board heard an update this month from the Brattle Group, which ERCOT selected in March to help identify and evaluate factors that affect investment in new generation and suggest solutions to address adequacy concerns in the coming years. The Brattle Group is interviewing stakeholders and analyzing likely outcomes under a variety of scenarios. The ERCOT board will receive a draft report in May, and the final report is due June 1.

The board also approved two urgent protocol revisions related to resource adequacy:

– NPRR450 authorizes ERCOT to contract for generation and load resources to address emergency conditions and to notify the ERCOT Board of such actions at its next meeting.

– NPRR 451 includes distributed generation among the emergency response resources ERCOT may call upon to help stabilize the grid during emergencies. NPRR451 also changes the term Emergency Interruptible Load Service (EILS) to Emergency Response Service (ERS) to reflect recent PUC rulemaking (Substantive Rule 25.507), which seeks to improve reliability by offering ERCOT a more diverse set of tools to help prevent rotating outages or a potential blackout.

These were among 22 revisions or additions, including four Planning Guide Revision Requests, two System Change Requests and 16 Nodal Protocol Revision Requests the Board approved as recommended by ERCOT’s Technical Advisory Committee.