Blog: ERCOT Predicts More Summer Power Use but Sufficient Reserves

New ERCOT Reports Predict New Summer Peak, but Improving Reserves.

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Hotter temperatures and more power use — but also an uptick in projected generation reserves —  that’s the latest summer forecast from ERCOT, the organization that manages the state’s primary electricity grid.

ERCOT, also known as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, released its final Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the upcoming summer season on Wednesday. It also released its preliminary assessment for fall and an updated Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) Report. The reports represent ERCOT’s best estimates for energy use both in the near and mid term.

Source: Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

“There is a lot of uncertainty in today’s world, but we are confident that Texas will still be hot this summer,” said Bill Magness, ERCOT president and CEO. “Texans will need electric power as they do every summer, and ERCOT is prepared to do our part to keep it flowing reliably.”

Its final SARA for the upcoming summer includes forecasts for June, July, August and September. The report forecasts peak summer electricity use at 75,200 megawatts, with a megawatt equating to about enough power to serve 200 households.

RECORD USE PREDICTED

If the forecast proves accurate, the 2020 summer peak will beat the all-time peak record of 74,820 MW set on Aug. 12, 2019.  However, the new peak is still nearly 1,500 megawatts less than that previously predicted by ERCOT for the summer.

ERCOT accounted for the economic impact of COVID-19 in its SARA report and said its projections make clear that Texas should have enough power to meet summer demand under normal and expected operating conditions. It could declare an emergency alert, however, if Texas suffers an extreme weather event, a dramatic decline in wind output or higher-than-normal generation outages, the organization said.

The new SARA report also included ERCOT’s projections for the amount of generation capacity the state should have during the summer over its peak energy use — the summer “reserve margin” in regulatory parlance. The final SARA shows a summer 2020 reserve margin at 12.6 percent,  marking an improvement over an earlier 10.6 percent estimate for the summer.

ERCOT also announced the recent start up of seven wind, solar, and storage projects totaling 979 MW, and the delay beyond the summer of 2020 of 411 MW of capacity — most of it wind — as well as the delay of one small battery project.

CDR REPORT

ERCOT’s separate Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) Report forecast the planning reserve margin during the summer of 2021 at 17.3 percent, at 19.7 percent in 2022 and at 18 percent in 2023. However, ERCOT noted that the pandemic has caused substantial uncertainty about statewide energy generation and consumption, and that the new CDR it released Wednesday reflects only pre-COVID load forecasts.

The organization says it will continue to monitor COVID-19 developments and make adjustments as needed. It also has created a special tab in its CDR reports to show how COVID-19 could impact peak demand and planning reserve margins.

ERCOT said that it approved 2,273 MW in new resources since the release of its earlier CDR report, in December, and that generation developers have said they plan additions totaling 17,993 MW by summer 2021. Generation developers say renewables will make up the lion’s share of the new generation,  but that they also plan some small, flexible gas-fired generation units.

 

— R.A. Dyer