Tuesday, January 22, 2019

ERCOT Sees Ample Capacity for Fall, Winter Seasons

AUSTIN, Texas — ERCOT said Thursday that it expects to have enough installed generating capacity available to meet fall and winter peak demand, thanks to the addition of 915 MW.

The Texas grid operator now has more than 81 GW capacity that should be available for peak demand into next spring. Two natural gas-fired power plants, one wind project and three solar projects have come online since ERCOT issued its last seasonal assessment of resource adequacy (SARA) in April. Another 265 MW of capacity is expected to become available by fall.

ERCOT resource adequacy | ERCOT

ERCOT forecasts a demand peak of 58.6 GW for October and November, based on normal weather conditions for those months. The ISO’s preliminary assessment for December through February projects a peak of 61.8 GW, below the winter demand record of 65.9 GW set last January.

Pete Warnken | © RTO Insider

“Our assessments show a healthy amount of operating reserves heading into the fall season,” ERCOT Manager of Resource Adequacy Pete Warnken said in a release.

The new generating capacity helped offset the mothballing of several older fossil-fired units. The grid operator has issued notifications of suspension of operations for 572 MW of gas- and coal-fired capacity, effective in early October. (See “Garland Generating Units Return to Mothballs,” ERCOT Briefs: Week of July 2, 2018.)

San Antonio’s CPS Energy has also publicly announced it will mothball its coal-fired J.T. Deely plant by year-end. The plant’s two units were built in the late 1970s and have a combined capacity of 850 MW.

ERCOT’s installed reserve margin has fallen to about 11% with the retirement of 4 GW of coal capacity in 2017. It has survived summer demand that peaked at 73.3 GW without resorting to emergency measures.

The final winter SARA report for 2018-19 will be released in early November.

— Tom Kleckner