ERCOT: Texas power grid ‘healthy’ for fall, winter after summer strain
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger might be a fitting maxim for the state’s main electricity grid as summer winds down.
The grid — strained to near capacity over the past few months by triple-digit temperatures and record demand for electricity — is in good shape for the fall and winter after enduring the test, according to a new report.
“Our assessments show a healthy amount of operating reserves heading into the fall season,” said Pete Warnken, manager of resource adequacy for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees the power grid and is commonly known as ERCOT.
The prognosis marks an improvement from ERCOT’s initial pre-summer assessment early this year, when it warned of an exceptionally slim operating cushion between maximum summer generating capacity and estimates for peak electricity demand.
At the time, ERCOT officials expressed confidence in the reliability of the grid but also cautioned that so-called “load-control measures” — including the possibility of rolling blackouts — might be needed if summer conditions turned out to be significantly hotter than normal or otherwise extreme.
Peak demand for electricity in the state ended up setting a record of 73,308 megawatts between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on July 19, coming perilously close to eclipsing generation capacity but not doing so. The situation was improved from ERCOT’s early outlook partly because three power plants that the agency hadn’t expected to be operational for the summer ended up coming online.
This fall, ERCOT is estimating peak demand of 58,619 megawatts and maximum generating capacity of more than 81,700 megawatts.