By Tom Kleckner
The Texas grid operator is forecasting a peak demand of 74.9 GW, 1.4 GW higher than the all-time record of 73.5 GW set last July. ERCOT will meet that demand with 78.9 GW of available capacity, a slight increase from its spring assessment of resource adequacy.
The good news: ERCOT’s planning reserve margin for the summer has increased to 8.6% from an historic low of 7.4%. The grid operator’s target reserve planning margin is 13.75%.
“At this reserve margin level, it’s more likely we’ll have to use additional resources available under emergency operations procedures on several occasions this summer,” ERCOT’s Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations, said during a media call Wednesday.
“We’re confident we’ll be able to maintain the reliability of the system as a whole. That’s our job,” Woodfin said in response to persistent questions about the possibility of blackouts this summer.
“It’s probably one of the lowest planning reserve margins on record — based on all the data we’ve seen historically — going into a summer peaking area,” John Moura, NERC director of reliability assessment, told the electric reliability organization’s Member Representatives Committee in St. Louis on Wednesday. “So [there are] certainly some challenges, but I believe the operators have the right tools in order to keep the system stable and operating the system reliably.”
Woodfin and ERCOT Manager of Resource Adequacy Pete Warnken said the grid operator has a number of tools at its disposal should operating reserves drop to 2.3 GW and force an EEA 1 declaration — the lowest emergency rating. At that point, ERCOT can take emergency imports from SPP over DC ties, use emergency response service and institute load-reduction measures, among other options.
“We have the tools and procedures in place,” Warnken assured his audience.
The ERCOT reserve margin for the summer months (June-September) was raised thanks to the return of a 365-MW NRG gas-fired unit, 111 MW of upgrades to 12 generating units and an increase in the amount of DC tie imports. (See NRG to Bring Back Gas Plant for Summer 2019) The grid operator’s Board of Directors in April approved a change to import forecasts, basing them on the amount of power that could be brought in during emergency conditions and not historical forecasts.
The fall assessment forecasts a peak demand of just over 61 GW, with more than 84 GW of capacity available.
The updated CDR includes an additional 733 MW of installed wind and solar capacity. It also includes 517 MW of battery storage as being newly eligible for inclusion.
The updated CDR forecasts above-normal growth in demand of 2.5 to 3% through 2022. Oil and gas development in West Texas and new industrial facilities on the Texas Gulf Coast account for much of that growth, ERCOT said.
The grid operator expects the reserve margin to reach 15.2% in 2021, when almost 6 GW of planned resources in the interconnection queue, primarily wind and solar projects, become eligible for the CDR. It projects the reserve margin will dip back below 8% in 2024, when peak demand is expected to exceed more than 84 GW.
Rich Heidorn Jr. contributed to this story from St. Louis.