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ERCOT declares another Energy Emergency Alert; prices hit $9,000/MWh

Highlights

More forced outages

Wind output drops to 1 GW

  • Author
  • Mark Watson
  • Editor
  • Bill Montgomery
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power

Houston — For the second time in three days, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has declared an Energy Emergency Alert, as reserves dipped below 2,300 MW, state regulators called for energy conservation, and systemwide real-time hub average locational marginal prices topped $9,000/MWh.

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"Today we have tighter than expected reserves because of high demand, although not as high as earlier," Dan Woodfin, ERCOT's senior director of system operations, said during a media call Thursday afternoon. "We also have some additional amount of generation that has been forced out, and in addition, we have lower wind output on our system."

As of about 3:30 pm CDT, ERCOT's reserve capacity, in excess of current load about 70,865 MW, had fallen to 2,173 MW. ERCOT's latest forecast for Thursday's peakload was 71,680 MW, well below the record of 74,531 MW set Monday.

ERCOT also declared an EEA Tuesday, for the first time since 2014, and prices spent about 90 minutes hovering around $9,000/MWh.

CustomWeather forecast high temperatures of 100 in San Antonio, 98 in Dallas and 96 in Houston Thursday. Thus, while demand was strong, a lack of supply prompted the price jump.

FORCED OUTAGES

Woodfin estimated about 5,200 MW of generation was in forced outage, with a mixture of gas, coal, wind and solar offline.

"Almost all generation has been online every day this week," Woodfin said. "As you run those units so much, even though they have been well maintained, there may be forced outages that occur."

Travis Whalen, an S&P Global Platts Analytics power market analyst, said, "Combined with a roughly 4 GW drop in wind generation, and you're more than making up the difference in peakloads from Tuesday's blowout."

WIND PRODUCTION FALLS

Power production from ERCOT's wind fleet, which exceeds 20 GW in capacity, had fallen to about 1 GW as of 11 am and remained under 2.2 GW as of 2 pm, the latest time available on the ERCOT website.

Real-time systemwide LMPs neared $230/MWh as of 1 pm CDT, topped $1,000/MWh by 1:45 pm and started hovered around 9,000/MWh at 3:30 pm.

With a first-level EEA, ERCOT can deploy all of the available generation, request power across its limited DC ties to other grids, and implement that type of Emergency Response Service -- primarily demand response -- that needs 30 minutes' notice before it can be used.

By about 4 pm, reserves had bounced back to about 2.5 GW, and Woodfin said his organization expects that wind output could begin to ramp up as coastal breezes boost wind generation output.

-- Mark Watson, markham.watson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Bill Montgomery, newsdesk@spglobal.com