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ERCOT Reports Enough Generation Resources for Summer, Coming Years

May 3, 2017
ERCOT has released its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the upcoming summer, a preliminary assessment for fall, and an updated Capacity, Dema

ERCOT has released its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the upcoming summer, a preliminary assessment for fall, and an updated Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) Report for the coming years.

The operator of the electric grid and competitive electric market for most of Texas expects to have sufficient generation to serve forecasted peak demand under most scenarios during the summer months, June through September. The SARA report includes a summer peak demand forecast nearing 73,000 megawatts (MW), based on average peak weather conditions during the past 14 years. One MW is enough electricity to serve about 200 homes on a hot summer day.

"We set a new summer peak demand record last year, and we may set another new record this year," said Warren Lasher, ERCOT senior director of System Planning. ERCOT’s peak demand surpassed 70,000 MW nine times in 2016 and peaked at 71,110 MW on Aug. 11.

"At this time, we do not anticipate any generation resource adequacy issues during the coming months, although we could see a need for conservation in the case of extended extreme temperatures or very low wind generation output during peak conditions," Lasher said.

Total generation resource capacity for the upcoming summer is estimated at close to 82,000 MW. This includes nearly 2,500 MW of planned natural gas-fired generation. The total also includes about 800 MW of new wind and grid-scale solar additions that, combined, are expected to contribute about 350 MW over summer peak hours, based on historical performance.

ERCOT also anticipates there will be enough installed generation capacity to serve system needs this fall season, October through November. The preliminary fall SARA report forecasts peak demand of about 56,000 MW, with expected generation resources totaling nearly 87,000 MW. The final fall SARA report will be released in September.

Future outlook continues to show sufficient reserve margins

The CDR includes a snapshot of planned resource additions during the next five years, along with current information about existing generation resources and the annually updated peak demand forecast for the next 10 years.

The 2018 summer planning reserve margin is projected at 18.9 percent. This is slightly lower than the projection reported in the December 2016 CDR report, due to schedule adjustments for some planned generation additions. According to information currently available, the latest CDR report shows planning reserve margins well above 16 percent for the next five years and exceeding 18 percent for four of those years.

"For each of the past two years, we received more than 75 interconnection requests from developers who are considering new projects in the ERCOT region," said Lasher. "While many move through the interconnection process and get built, a number of others do not. We update our anticipated planning reserve margins based on the status of interconnection agreements and other factors defined in our Protocols."

Since the December 2016 CDR report, newly added wind and grid-scale solar generation resources total nearly 1,800 MW, with anticipated peak capacity contributions of more than 400 MW in 2018. More than 10,000 MW of planned resources, with anticipated summer peak capacity of almost 5,500 MW, also are included for 2018.

Planned resources increase to nearly 16,000 MW by summer 2019, with a combined anticipated summer capacity contribution totaling about 7,800 MW. The outlook also reflects plans to mothball one plant indefinitely, resulting in a capacity reduction of 840 MW beginning in 2019. As ERCOT receives additional information from generation owners about planned operational changes and unit retirements within the planning timeframe, it will incorporate this information in future CDR reports.

ERCOT typically updates the long-term load forecast used in the CDR in December. While the 2018 summer peak demand forecast remains at just over 74,000 MW, the December 2017 update likely will include updated demand projections associated with industrial plants along the Gulf Coast and increases related to oil and gas exploration in the Permian Basin region. ERCOT also continues to study the requested addition of Lubbock Power & Light to its system, pending a future decision by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

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