Texas grid operator weighed down by peak electricity demand, EIA says

Peak demand for electricity in Texas is cutting the amount of reserve power available to the grid operator for most of the state.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report Monday that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has fallen below its target reserve margin of 13.75 percent for two years in a row. Significant investment in new supply has been hampered by regulatory and market uncertainty, the information agency  said.

That means rolling blackouts are possible if an extended heat wave coupled with unplanned outrages pushes demand for electricity higher than available supply, it  said.

Read more: 14 ways to slim your power bill this summer

Population growth and a strong economy are being cited for the increased peak demand for electricity in recent years in areas of Texas served by Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

While the grid is expected to have 1,032 more megawatts of capacity available this summer compared with last summer, current expectations for demand are outpacing the capacity additions, the Energy Information Administration  said.

The agency said Electric Reliability Council of Texas is the only regional grid operator that doesn’t have a mechanism for paying for reserve electricity supply. Generators rely solely on the sale of electricity to raise revenue, the government report  said.