ERCOT meeting Texas’ peak energy demands, council says – Alice Echo News Journal


By Bethany Blankley The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Texas’ energy grid is meeting peak demands and system-wide demand records as more people moving to Texas are increasing usage and temperatures sustaining triple digits.

The state says it is meeting energy demands after system-wide reforms and improvements were made in response to directives issued by the governor and state legislature after the winter freeze and power failure in February 2021. After a year of collaboration with multiple agencies spearheaded by the Railroad Commission of Texas, additional reforms are also in the works.

With statewide temperatures hitting triple digits and not enough wind expected to generate energy for electricity, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), issued a conservation warning this week. ERCOT, which oversees the Texas electrical grid, asked residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve electricity between 2 and 8 pm on Monday, stating that wind turbines were expected to produce less than 10% of their capacity.

In response, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke issued a campaign statement, tweeting, “We can’t rely on the grid when it’s hot. We can’t rely on the grid when it’s cold. We can’t rely on Greg Abbott. It’s time to vote him out and fix the grid.”

But the day before, ERCOT communications issued a statement to media saying it “expects sufficient generation to meet forecasted demand.” So far, the grid has met demand.

ERCOT said Wednesday “there is enough power for current demand” showing that the grid’s operating reserves were 4,449 MW as of 8 am CST.

The grid also was prepared to manage triple digit temperatures and increasing demand, ERCOT announced in a May report forecasting its capability for the summer. It said, “The ERCOT region is expected to have sufficient installed generating capacity to serve peak demands in the upcoming summer season, June – September 2022, under normal system conditions and most of the reserve capacity risks scenarios examined.”

As more people and businesses are moving to Texas, electricity demands are also increasing.

“With continued economic growth across the state, ERCOT anticipates a summer 2022 peak demand of 77,317 MW,” the report states. The demand is “a new system-wide peak demand record for the region.”

But it also anticipated having 91,392 MW of resource capacity available to meet the demand during summer peak demand hours, including “473 MW of gasfired, utility-scale solar and wind capacity,” it said. It also expected having 2,035 MW of operational battery storage resources, including 283 MW of planned additions.

The announcements came after Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Public Utility Commission and ERCOT last July to implement changes to ensure the Texas grid was more reliable. ERCOT also began implementing new reforms directed by the state legislature.

Abbott said the changes, “combined with the enhanced enforcement tools provided by the Texas Legislature will ensure greater stability and reliability of the Texas electric grid.”

Since then, “significant progress” has been made “by Texas facilities to supply the fuel in emergency weather conditions,” the Texas Railroad Commission said in January after the energy industry had spent months making upgrades and its inspectors had conducted site visits and inspections at nearly 4,000 facilities.

Six months later, the commission approved a proposed sweeping weatherization rule to “help protect Texans during weather emergencies that could occur any time of the year.”

A public comment period extends through August 15, after which the commission will review comments and adopt a final rule.

The rule covers critical facilities on the state’s Electricity Supply Chain Map, including natural gas wells and oil leases producing casinghead gas, underground storage facilities, gas processing plants, and gas pipelines. It covers a range of facility and infrastructure types with different weather patterns and geography, requiring operators to weatherize them to extreme low and high temperatures for each county. Inspectors will enforce the rule and have the authority to issue fines of up to $1 million a day.

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