ERCOT Cuts Power to Industrial Users to Avoid Blackouts

Power demand for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) control area hit three consecutive records in the past week—reaching 68,294 MW on Aug. 3—forcing the grid operator to cut power to large industrial users to avoid rolling blackouts. It was the second time this year and only the fourth in more than two decades that the grid operator has been forced to implement such measures.

The new peak demand, reached between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. exceeded Aug. 2’s new record demand by 365 MW and last year’s record of 65,776 MW (Aug. 23, 2010) by 2,518 MW. Wind generation contributed approximately 2,000 MW during the record peak hour.

ERCOT said it was struggling to keep up with demand, owing to about 5 GW of generation that was unavailable due to forced outages and de-ratings. ERCOT was last week importing 1,000 MW of generation from other grids via direct current ties, including 288 MW that was procured under emergency protocols from Southwest Power Pool in the Eastern interconnection (58 MW) and from Comisión Federal de Electricidad in Mexico (230 MW).

The grid operator came under regulatory scrutiny in February when an unusually bitter cold snap crippled several power plants and forced ERCOT to implement rolling blackouts. Texas has been suffering a long heat wave with temperatures of more than 100F for several weeks in a row.

Reuters reported that with record demand came record-breaking prices. Prices on Thursday were more than $400/MWh—the highest in the past 10 years.

Sources: POWERnews, ERCOT, Reuters