ERCOT: Uncertainty Increased in 10-Year Outlook

Uncertainty concerning a number of environmental rules is clouding planning measures, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said on May 3.

Citing its latest Capacity, Demand, and Reserves (CDR) report—a snapshot of existing and planned resources and load forecasts for the next 10 years—the grid entity that manages about 90% of Texas’ electric load said planning reserve margins will stay above 15% through 2026. “However, this report also includes generation resources that could be affected by environmental regulations, and future decisions by resource owners may impact these projected planning reserve margins,” it said.

ERCOT spokesperson Robbie Searcy told POWER that the report is based on information provided by resource owners. “As a result, the report includes generation resources that could be affected by environmental regulations in the future.”

A 2015 ERCOT assessment suggests that the final Clean Power Plan could force the retirement of up to 4 GW of coal-fired capacity in the operator’s region by 2030, with retirements starting as soon as 2022, she noted. Retirements could surge to 4.7 GW when regional haze requirements are taken into consideration, she said.

Since ERCOT’s last CDR report was released in December 2015, nearly 1 GW of new generation has become operational in the region, with a peak capacity contribution of about 250 MW. However, expected generation capacity for 2017 has also fallen by about 1.7 GW since the previous report.

Planning reserve margins also saw a 2.5% drop in 2017, owing to a two-year delay in the projected commercial operations of a planned 700-MW natural gas combined cycle plant, and a 416 MW increase in mothballed capacity beginning in 2016.

Significantly, the report shows that 6.2 GW of new gas-fired generation will be added to the grid by summer 2018.

On May 3, ERCOT also released its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA). The SARA report indicates that 78,434 MW of total generation capacity will be available to serve projected peak demand of 70,588 MW. This includes 680 MW of new natural gas–fired generation resources that are expected to begin operating by summer peak, 410 MW of new planned wind generation capacity, and another 7 MW of planned grid-level solar generation capacity.


Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)





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