ERCOT anticipates sufficient generation resources for upcoming fall and winter

Sept. 4, 2012, AUSTIN, TX – A new Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) released by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) anticipates that there will be enough power available to serve consumer needs within the ERCOT grid during the upcoming fall.

“Although there is always the possibility that extreme weather conditions or an unusual number of generation outages could create unforeseen conditions, we expect to have enough power available to serve a range of scenarios,” said Warren Lasher, ERCOT’s director of System Planning.

ERCOT, the grid operator for most of Texas, expects to have more than 74,500 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity to serve anticipated peak demand of about 53,000 MW during the months of October and November. Expected electric use is based in part on the Climate Prediction Center’s fall weather forecast. Available operating reserves could range from about 12,700 MW, based on five-year average generation outages, to as low as 3,300 MW if more extreme temperatures or above-average outages occur.

One MW is enough power to serve about 500 homes during mild weather conditions and about 200 homes during higher-demand summer months.

ERCOT also released a preliminary winter forecast that provides a preview of possible conditions later this year and early in 2013. Winter in the ERCOT region typically does not drive electric use to the levels the grid experiences during summer. Rare cases of sustained extremely cold temperatures can affect generation performance and drive up electric demand, especially in those areas within the ERCOT region where consumers rely primarily on electricity for heating. The combination of these factors could result in rotating outages on the ERCOT grid.

“At this time, it appears we also will have sufficient generation to serve expected load patterns this winter,” said Lasher. “However, if we see a combination of extreme winter weather conditions and more generation outages than usual, there could be a need to reduce electric demand at some point this winter to help protect grid reliability.” Those steps could include calling on contracted demand response resources or even rotating outages, depending on the severity of the situation.

Both seasonal assessments incorporate updated information on projected generation availability, weather projections, economic forecasts and other data to define a likely range of electric supply and demand scenarios.

ERCOT will assess any changes to the winter forecast prior to release of the final winter assessment on Nov. 1.