ERCOT to revive mothballed units to address summer power demand

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) expects to tap nearly 2,000 MW of previously mothballed units, which had been taken out of service by their owners, to address a tight supply situation this summer, ERCOT said May 1.

ERCOT’s Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy for summer 2012 said the previously idle units that will return to service include about 430 MW of capacity that was not available last summer.

Some units that had not been expected to be able to run this summer due to the U.S. EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule are available after a federal appeals court last December put that regulation on hold. Final legal resolution on the rule could come later this year given that oral arguments were held in a federal appeals court during April.

“Even with this additional generation, we expect that there may be some calls for conservation when energy use is particularly high or if generation supplies are impacted by unplanned outages,” said ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett. “Having nearly 2,000 MW of additional generation available this summer will help reduce the likelihood of rotating outages.”

The summer 2012 assessment assumes weather will be warmer and drier than the 15-year historical average but less extreme than 2011, based on information from the National Weather Service and from Telvent, which provides weather forecasting data for ERCOT.

Forecasts also indicate the possibility of tropical storm activity early in the summer and the potential for more variable rain.

Further improving the generation outlook is more than 2,075 MW of wind power in the coastal region, which tends to be available to the grid during the late afternoon when it is needed most in the summer.

Also in June the Brattle Group is expected to issue a report that will examine factors that influence power plant investment decisions in the ERCOT market.

“We have taken an ‘all of the above’ approach to meeting Texans’ electricity needs this summer,” said Chairman Donna Nelson of the state Public Utility Commission. “I particularly appreciate efforts from generators to bring power plants back on-line to help keep our air conditioners running.”

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.