The Texas Grid This Summer

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the operator of the electric distribution grid for most of Texas, announced six new generating units will be going online this year that should help meet Texans’ power needs this summer and fall.  Despite this, they also said consumers could still be asked to conserve during extremely hot weather or in case of outages to help avoid blackouts.

This year Texans were asked to conserve power and warned of rolling blackouts during peak use, most recently in January when freezing temperatures increased demand significantly across the state.

Peak demand, typically between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on a hot summer day, is expected to reach about 68,000 megawatts, ERCOT has estimated. ERCOT’s record peak usage was 68,305 megawatts on Aug. 3, 2011.

The new generating units expected online in 2014 are the

  1. Ferguson Replacement in Llano County – 540-megawatt (MW), combined-cycle power facility to replace the now-closed 420-MW plant, which was built in 1974
  2. Panda Sherman in Grayson County – 650 MW, combined cycle natural gas powered facility
  3. Panda Temple I in Bell County – 1,200 MW combined cycle natural gas powered facility
  4. Deer Park Energy Center in Harris County – 260 MW natural gas powered facility
  5. Rentech Project in Harris County – 15 MW generation project to power its nitrogen fertilizer plant
  6. Forney Power Upgrade in Kaufman County – 26 MW natural gas powered facility upgrade
During 2013, nearly 10 percent of the energy produced and used within ERCOT came from wind operations.  By 2017 Texas can expect to see about 8,600 megawatts more of wind power capacity added to the grid. Texas continues to be the leader in wind power generation for the entire country.
Solar installations, both photovoltaic panels on rooftops and utility scale solar are slowly increasing their presence on the grid.  With prices coming down, if the Texas legislature mandated a non-wind renewable portfolio standard, Texas could expect to see the same growth in solar energy as it did in wind after the initial renewable portfolio standard was set.