Oops: Texas’ summer power picture just a bit less bright

We reported earlier this week that Texas’ main grid operator expects to have 18.4 percent more power generation capacity available than the expected peak demand, well above the state-mandated 13.75 percent margin.

Turns out officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas made an error and double-counted some power plants. The real reserve margin: 17.5 percent.

In a statement this morning ERCOT said three new gas-fired power plants totaling 565 megawatts were inadvertently counted twice because the date in which they were put into operation had been changed.

The change shouldn’t matter, particularly since ERCOT said it expects this year’s peak power usage to be below last year’s record due to economic growth projections. But it’s the kind of error that doesn’t instill a lot of confidence, particularly given what seems to have been an industry-wide failure to adequately prepare for a cold spell in February that led to rolling blackouts.

3 Comments

  1. David Gower

    Tom, give them a pass on this one. Now is the time to confess errors, not later when the HEAT is on.

    #1
  2. JimH

    The drought will affect power generation if it continues, those power plants rely on cooling ponds.

    #2
  3. Fortunately, no cold spells expected this summer! More seriously, generators have a bit more experience with the heat than they have with sustained cold spells, so standard summer precautions should work.

    But as JimH notes, the drought may be an issue. Folks concerned with reliability might want to at least inquire of generators whether they have assured themselves of sufficient water supply this summer.

    #3