ERCOT Ready to Take on Peak Demand

We all know what happens in the summer.  It gets hot, we sweat, we complain about sweating, and we walk over to the thermostat to blast the A/C until it starts to feel like the Yukon.  If everyone practiced in this summertime ritual (and most people do), there wouldn’t be much electricity left to go around.  In the energy industry, this is what’s known as peak demand, and it can be a utility’s worst nightmare.

The Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has taken preventative measures to ensure that its customers avoid the frustration that comes with rolling blackouts, which are caused when peak demand for electricity exceeds the available supply.  Director of System Planning Warren Lasher described one of the projects,

We have several new gas-fired generation plants that will become commercially available late in this summer.  With these plants operating we do not expect…periods of limited operating reserves even in the event of extreme weather similar to what we saw in 2011.

Earlier this year, The Brattle Group came out with a report claiming that Texas may have enough energy reserves to last until 2020.  However, this contradicts the Public Utility Commission’s warning on not having sufficient energy resources, and its advice to change to a capacity market model.  Despite the opposition, Lasher is confident the state is in good standings.  “We expect to have reserve margins about 14 percent through 2016,” he said.  “One thing I’d like to highlight is that we are still counting wind resources of 8.7 percent of their name plate capacity.”

In addition to these strategies, ERCOT also participates in demand response, a program that pays large electricity consumers to reduce their usage during peak demand.  With this combination of energy efficient tactics, customers of ERCOT should be in good hands this summer.



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