Seasonal Forecasts Indicate Sufficient Generation Available for Spring, Summer

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AUSTIN, TX – Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for spring (March-May) and a preliminary outlook for summer (June-September). ERCOT anticipates there will be sufficient generation to meet projected peak demand during the upcoming spring and summer seasons.

“In preparing our seasonal forecasts, we studied multiple scenarios to test the ERCOT system,” said Senior Director of System Planning Warren Lasher. “Under the most extreme scenarios considered, there were adequate generation reserves to maintain reliability.”

The spring report identifies more than 82,000 MW of generation resources available to serve the expected peak demand of approximately 58,000 MW. The demand forecast is based on average weather conditions during ERCOT’s spring peak from 2002 through 2015. This year’s spring peak is most likely to occur in late May, following the completion of most seasonal power plant maintenance outages that occur in preparation for summer demand.

One MW is enough electricity to power about 200 homes during the highest demand conditions and about 500 homes during a mild spring day.

Since the release of the preliminary spring SARA report, nearly 1,500 MW of new gas-fired, wind and solar generation has become operational.

“We are expecting warmer-than-normal temperatures to continue in the ERCOT region this spring,” said ERCOT Senior Meteorologist Chris Coleman. “The rain forecast will be normal to above-normal for most of Texas, and drought is not expected to be a concern for the vast majority of the ERCOT region through the spring season.”

The preliminary summer SARA report shows a peak load forecast of nearly 73,000 MW based on normal summer weather conditions during ERCOT’s peak demand periods. This is 2.6 percent higher than ERCOT’s all-time peak demand record of 71,110 MW, which was set Aug. 11, 2016. Another 4,000 MW of new gas-fired, wind and solar generation is expected to be available at the start of the summer season.

With wind playing a larger role in ERCOT’s generation resource mix, the summer report reflects a scenario that combines the forecasted peak load with extremely low wind output. The low wind output level in this scenario represents only 3.8 percent of the total installed wind capacity, compared to a historical average contribution of 19.4 percent of installed capacity during summer peak load hours.

In preparing the preliminary summer outlook for 2017, ERCOT also announced plans to terminate its Reliability Must-Run (RMR) Agreement for Greens Bayou Unit 5, effective May 29, 2017.

Following the passage of Nodal Protocol Revision Request (NPRR) 788 last fall, ERCOT completed additional RMR studies using the newly established criteria and determined the unit would be needed to support transmission system reliability in the Houston area until the Colorado Bend II Generating Station begins commercial operations.

According to the January 2017 Generator Interconnection Status Report, the new generating facility in Wharton County is expected to begin commercial operations in June 2017. This information, combined with other considerations, resulted in the decision to terminate the RMR Agreement.

The final summer SARA report will be released in early May 2017.