The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s main grid, said it expects to initiate conservation alerts or power watches this summer as demand may climb to an all-time high amid tight supplies.
Electricity use during the hottest days this summer may reach 68,383 megawatts, above the Aug. 3, 2011, record of 68,305. That compares to available supplies of 74,438 megawatts to meet peak power needs, including the 925 megawatts of new coal-fired generation at the Sandy Creek Energy Station in McLennan County and about 700 megawatts of new wind capacity.
“We are expecting above-normal temperatures throughout summer in most areas of the Ercot region,” Kent Saathoff, an executive adviser overseeing grid operations, said in an e- mailed statement.
The Texas grid may see power shortages this summer if extreme conditions lead to higher power plant outages or demand increases by as much as 2,529 megawatts if weather patterns mimic those of the summer of 2011, Saathoff said.
“If generation outages exceed expected conditions during peak demand periods, or if we see a return of record-breaking conditions like those in 2011, Ercot also may need to implement Energy Emergency Alert actions, with the possibility of rotating outages if needed to protect the grid,” Saathoff said.
Power demand reached the 2011 record when a heat wave pushed temperatures in the Dallas area to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) or higher for 40 days in a row.
One megawatt is enough to power about 200 homes in the Ercot region during peak-demand hours, typically from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the hottest days of the year, the grid operator said. The Ercot grid serves 85 percent of the state’s power demand, according to the operator’s website.
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