ERCOT should have 79 GW of resources to meet 58 GW of peak demand

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) reported recently that it expects to have enough power generation to meet peak demand for the upcoming spring and summer seasons.

The final Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for spring 2016 identifies more than 79,000 MW of generation resources available to serve expected peak demand of roughly 58,000 MW. One MW is enough electricity to power about 200 homes during the highest demand conditions and about 500 homes during a mild spring day.

As part of its process to prepare for seasonal demand, ERCOT identifies a similar weather year. This spring forecast is based on expected weather conditions similar to those that occurred in May 2006 and typical seasonal generation outages, based on historical performance. The spring peak is most likely to occur in late May, following completion of most seasonal power plant maintenance that occurs in preparation for summer demand.

With registered wholesale installed solar capacity now exceeding 200 MW, the new SARA calculates availability of those resources based on a methodology approved in 2013. As a result, solar resources are estimated at 171 MW, or 58%, based on typical performance of those resources during spring peak demand conditions.

The preliminary summer SARA also anticipates sufficient resources to serve summer peak demand, which could surpass 70,000 MW for the first time, based on 13-year average weather. ERCOT estimates having more than 79,000 MW of available generation to serve summer’s peak load.

This report includes scenarios with expected and extreme demand and outage forecasts, including conditions such as those experienced in 2011. This report also includes a new scenario based on low wind power output during peak. Solar generation in the summer report is calculated at 80% of total installed capacity under the new rules.

ERCOT will continue to monitor weather expectations, including updates to the near-term outlook, regulatory changes that could affect generation availability, and other circumstances that might impact the report. Any changes or updates, including any updates associated with the near-term weather outlook, will be reflected in the final summer SARA, which is scheduled for release in May.

“Taking into account multiple scenarios under a variety of conditions, ERCOT expects to have enough generation available to serve peak demand this spring,” said Pete Warnken, manager of Resource Adequacy.

“Recent weather trends suggest that, although there will likely be some colder-than-normal periods in the spring, they will be minimal in terms of intensity,” ERCOT Senior Meteorologist Chris Coleman said. “The month of May shows potential for above-normal temperatures, which could lead to an early taste of summer.”

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.