Saturday, March 23, 2019

ERCOT Sets Wind, Monthly Demand Records

By Tom Kleckner

Papalote Creek Wind Farm in South Texas | © RTO Insider

HOUSTON — ERCOT set a pair of demand records last week, establishing new marks for wind energy generation and November monthly demand as temperatures dipped below freezing in much of the state.

The grid operator recorded 17.9 GW of wind generation on Nov. 12, accounting for more than 40% of the generation in its footprint. That broke the old record 17.5 GW set on Feb 19.

ERCOT, which manages the grid for about 90% of Texas, has more than 21 GW of installed wind generation. It has another 40 GW of wind energy in its interconnection queue.

It twice set monthly demand records for November, reaching 55.3 GW the evening of Nov. 13 and 56.3 GW the next morning. That broke the old 2014 mark by more than 5.4 GW.

“We’re busting through these records,” ERCOT CEO Bill Magness said during a Gulf Coast Power Association luncheon. “We continue to see load growth in Texas.”

ERCOT’s last capacity, demand and reserves (CDR) report indicated its load will grow from 71.7 GW in 2019 to almost 78 GW in 2023. The grid operator will release an updated CDR in December, but Magness said he expects the load projections to grow again.

Load projections in West Texas | ERCOT

Magness shared with his audience a slide of Culberson County in West Texas, where oil and gas exploration has driven demand through the roof. Eight studies have been conducted in the area since 2014, with a load increase each time.

Petrochemical plant lights up the night sky over Corpus Christi Bay. | © RTO Insider

“If you’re a planner, this will make your stomach hurt,” Magness said. “Every time we’ve done a forecast, it’s gone up dramatically.”

The demand record for November was the 10th the grid operator has set since January 2016. Only February and March have demand records that date back to 2015 or earlier.