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ERCOT Predicts Record Texas Electricity Demand for Summer

May 6, 2021
Expected hot and dry conditions and continued economic and population growth throughout the region will lead to record energy demand, according to ERCOT.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is anticipating record-breaking electric demand this summer due to expected hot and dry conditions and continued economic and population growth throughout the region.

ERCOT is identifying low-probability, high-impact situations similar to the February winter event in its seasonal assessments, to ensure all market participants and government officials have a comprehensive view into market conditions. This will allow the market to more fully plan and prepare for even the most remote possibility.

Additionally, ERCOT announced plans to visit selected power plants across the state to review summer weatherization plans. While plant visits have occurred in the past for winter weatherization, this is the first time officials will visit plants for summer.

ERCOT released its final Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the summer season (June – September), its preliminary assessment for the fall season (October – November) and the May Capacity Demand, and Reserves (CDR) Report. 

“The new scenarios reflect ERCOT’s commitment to improve transparency and visibility into the market and the factors that affect reliability, even when there is a very remote possibility of these events happening,” said ERCOT’s Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson.

“While the risk for emergency conditions remains low this summer based on many of the scenarios studied, a combination of factors in real time, including record demand, high thermal generation outages and low wind/solar output could result in tight grid conditions,” said Rickerson. “We cannot control the weather or forced generation outages, but we are prepared to deploy the tools that are available to us to maintain a reliable electric system. We hope this report helps market participants prepare to assist the grid if needed.”

ERCOT anticipates there will be enough generation to meet the summer 2021 peak demand of 77,144 MW. Based on this forecast, the ERCOT region will have a 15.7% reserve margin this summer season. The current system-wide peak demand record for ERCOT is 74,820 MW set on Aug. 12, 2019. One MW typically powers about 200 homes on a hot summer day. 

ERCOT introduced new, more extreme scenarios in the summer SARA, and while they are all within the realm of possibility, the grid operator believes there is a less than one percent chance that they would actually occur. For reference, based on available meteorological data, the winter storm that occurred in February was approximately a one-in-100 event.

Looking ahead, the grid operator is monitoring new operational risks resulting from a changing resource mix. While tight grid conditions have historically been limited to the hours of highest electric consumption, ERCOT now sees the potential for tight conditions during low wind conditions, or during the early evening hours when solar resources come offline. As the capacity of battery storage increases in ERCOT, these resources are expected to help mitigate some of this risk.

ERCOT is also monitoring current drought conditions across the state. After consulting with generators on their risk mitigation plans, the grid operator does not believe the drought poses a significant risk at this time.  

New this year, ERCOT and the Texas Reliability Entity will visit a select group of power plants to evaluate their summer weatherization plans. This process will be similar to the winter weatherization checks performed by ERCOT. See the market notice that was issued on this topic.

Other steps to prepare for summer operations:

•             Coordination with transmission service providers (TSPs) to limit planned outages during the summer months

•             Request generators to contact gas suppliers to identify any pipeline activities that would affect the availability of gas for their generators during the summer season

•             Communications coordination with market participants

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