Industrial growth will add pressure to Texas power grid, analysts say
Industrial expansion on the Houston Ship Channel and Texas shale plays will continue to push up electricity demand on the grid, according to a report issued Monday.
Several new petrochemical and refining projects on the Gulf Coast are expected to increase demand for electricity and natural gas, investment firm Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. wrote in a report that assesses Texas’ power market.
Several companies, including Exxon Mobil, BASF, LyondellBasell and Dow Chemical, have announced plans for new plants to come on line in the next couple of years, all of which are expected to create additional electricity demand.
High demand: Texas-sized power bills dwarf electricity use in other states
Texas grid planners have projected 3 percent growth in electricity demand through 2016. But the report’s authors — Brandon Blossman, director of coal and power research, and Neel Mitra, a vice president in power and utilities research — believe that the increased industrial demand could push the percentage higher, noting that Texas planners had previously projected 4.2 percent growth through 2016.
Texas Commissioner Ken Anderson, however, says that the grid planners’ decrease in projected demand growth accurately reflects how increased electricity efficiency and moderate weather are offsetting the growth of industrial power demand. The modified forecasts by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the grid, show a more modest growth, Anderson said.
“ERCOT has been overcasting by about one percent,” Anderson said. “The outlook for dire resource adequacy is wholly overstated.”
Also on FuelFix:
14 ways to slim your power bill this summer
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Angle blinds up: TXU Energy says that angling horizontal blinds so sunlight streams up can reduce the heat coming in and provide free natural light. When closed and lowered, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent.
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Insulate lights: Canned or recessed lights can be a big source of air leaks. Selecting “IC” (insulation contact) models or installing approved covers over non-IC models can stop that.
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Use a fan: You can raise your thermostat setting by up to 4 degrees and not feel a difference if you also run a ceiling fan. Fans only make you feel cooler, though, so turn them off when you’re not in the room.
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Lower humidity: It takes longer to cool a humid home. The ideal humidity level is less than 60 percent in the summer.
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Moderate the thermostat: Lowering your thermostat setting does not cool your home more quickly. Many factors affect how quickly an indoor space cools. Thermostat set points are not among them.
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Check your water heater: Water heaters are factory set at 140 degrees. Lowering that to 120 degrees provides comfortably hot water and less energy consumption.
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Use a programmable thermostat: Most Americans with programmable thermostats don’t program them. New Energy Star® ratings for programmable thermostats may consider ease of use and online access.
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Seal your windows: If you want to save money this summer, you should start by looking for the places where you are losing money. Gaps between windows and doors are some of the most likely spots for energy loss.
Michael Paulsen / Houston Chronicle
Get the right A/C unit: Air conditioners are designed for specific sizes, and you can waste energy by having one too big or too small. You should make sure your unit is right for your home.
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Switch your light bulbs: You can save money by switching out old incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. The modern light bulbs, which do have a different glow, can save you money on your electric bill.
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Change your air filter: A dirty air filter can make your air conditioner be less efficient, and it can ultimately cost you money on your electric bill.
Fitz Villafuerte / Flickr
Turn off lights: Many people forget to turn off lights and fans after leaving a room. By turning them off, you can save yourself some money on that electric bill.
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Buy energy-efficient appliances: They may cost more at the store, but energy-efficient appliances can save you money on your electric bill.
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Unplug unused appliances: You can save money by unplugging phone chargers or other kitchen appliances when they aren't in use.