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On May 8, 2019, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) published its final Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the upcoming 2019 summer season, as well as a preliminary assessment for fall 2019 and an update to their Capacity, Demand, and Reserves (CDR) Report. Per their resource adequacy statement, ERCOT “counts on an adequate supply of electric generation to meet demand and maintain capacity reserves to help support grid reliability if shortfalls occur”. To assist operational teams in planning for upcoming demand and generation requirements, the SARA reports provide the results of several scenarios studied for the applicable season; the CDR reports provide annualized trends and data to support ongoing planning efforts. In this article, we will be focusing on the summer 2019 SARA and discussing ERCOT’s unique regional challenges.

For summer 2019, the ERCOT region’s forecasted peak demand is 74,853 MW, which represents “1,300 MW higher than the all-time peak demand record set last summer on July 19”. Given this forecast, the region has “identified a potential need to enter Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) status” in order to maintain system reliability. Per ERCOT, EEAs are the emergency protocols utilized “when operating reserves drop below 2,300 MW or system frequency cannot be maintained above certain levels and durations”. There are three EEA levels which are dependent upon the amount of operating reserves that are available to meet electric demand on the system.

Electric demand growth accounts for part of the increase in forecasted peak demand. Western Texas has burgeoning oil and gas development, while new industrial facility construction is occurring in coastal areas. This development places a strain on the grid as utilities work to support the electric demand needs of large consumers. The system-wide electric demand growth rate is “expected to be 2.5 to 3% through 2022”, indicating a need for increased generation for the foreseeable future.

To help alleviate system constraints, ERCOT does have “approximately 733 MW of installed wind and solar capacity” that has been approved for commercial operations. Operating reserves are expected to remain “tight”, though total generation resource capacity has “increased to 78,929 MW compared to the preliminary summer SARA released in March”. The increase is due primarily to a large generation unit returning to operation, increased output from certain upgraded units, and an increase in imports.

Despite the predictions and forecast modeling, Texans are encouraged to continually monitor weather trends during the upcoming summer months, as well as appropriately respond to energy use warnings and guidance. Visit the ERCOT website for up-to-date system information and notices.

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