The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the flow of electric power to nearly 24 million customers in the Lone Star State, announced on November 2 that, based on new data, the region expects to have sufficient electricity to meet expected peak demands this winter, as well as this spring.
The independent system operator for the region has completed its final Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the upcoming winter season, which focuses on expected reliability scenarios for December 2015 through February 2016. ERCOT also released the preliminary outlook for next spring, based on average springtime weather conditions over the past 13 years.
With more than 79,000 megawatts (MW) of generation resources available, ERCOT expects to have sufficient electricity for the anticipated peak demand of 57,400 MW this winter. Each megawatt of demand is typically enough to power about 500 homes during mild weather conditions and about 200 homes during summer peak demand.
“ERCOT expects to meet systemwide peak demand across a broad range of operating conditions and weather scenarios,” said Director of System Planning Warren Lasher. “Current information indicates that there would be sufficient generation available to serve the ERCOT region, even during high-load conditions with extreme generation outages.”
The ISO’s assessment for this winter includes the same peak forecast used for the preliminary winter SARA report, released in September. This report reflected peak forecast expectations based on customer demand experienced during recent winter season cold-weather events and current expectations for average weather in the upcoming winter season.
“As we prepare for an El Niño-fueled winter en route to Texas, we’re forecasting December and January to be wetter than normal,” ERCOT Senior Meteorologist Chris Coleman said. “If, as expected, El Niño backs off in intensity by February, we could see a late-season cold pattern that drives temperatures lower across the ERCOT region.”
Total resource capacity increased by nearly 1,100 MW relative to capacity reported in the preliminary winter SARA. The increase was related to the return to service of units previously in seasonal mothball status, as well as several new resources becoming operational.
In addition to the final winter outlook, ERCOT also released the preliminary SARA for spring 2016. Based on the results of this study, even during extreme conditions, ERCOT predicts that the region will have sufficient installed generating capacity to serve forecasted peak demands in the upcoming spring season (March through May 2016).