Texas Grid planners deferred a decision on whether to raise the proportion of reserve power generating capacity the state should maintain to meet peak demand.
Board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas decided to delay until September a vote on a staff proposal to raise the reserve margin from 13.75 percent to 16.1 percent, awaiting further research by the Public Utility Commission, the state’ s utility regulator.
“I am concerned that action today would only complicate the work,” said Craven Crowell, chair of the council.
The proposal would have the effect of raising the need for power plants, which some argue could push Texas toward a capacity market system with generators receiving payments in exchange for keeping plants available.
Under the existing market structure, called energy only, plants only receive revenue for power they actually sell to consumers–a situation capacity market advocates say doesn’t provide incentive for construction of peak-demand plants that seldom operate.
In addition to increasing the reserve requirement, the proposal by the council’s technical staff would change the method for calculating wind resources, effectively raising the wind power considered available to meet peak needs.
The council calculates total wind resources as contributing 8.7 percent of the capacity it estimates it would need at peak demand. The proposed change would increase that amount to 32.9 percent for coastal wind power resources and 14.2 percent for other wind resources. The staff cited improved wind technology and differences between coastal and inland wind patterns in recommending the change.
The council has estimated that the new wind calculations would recognize about 1,000 megawatts more in the grid by 2014, raising the projected reserve margin for next summer from 13.8 percent to 15.3 percent.
“While we may all support the model used by the staff, prudence would call that we should take a second look, so we can guarantee that we are getting it right,” Crowell said in support of the delay in adopting the proposal.
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.
kellen_butler / Flickr
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.
rlhyde / Flickr
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.