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Texas grid's chances of energy emergency higher in January: ERCOT


Bad winter storm could enhance risk

Regulators may discuss capacity RFP Nov. 2

  • Author
  • Markham Watson
  • Editor
  • Richard Rubin
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Energy Transition Natural Gas
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  • Solar energy Wind energy

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas on Nov. 1 forecast increased chances for an energy emergency in January than it did for December, if a winter storm similar to the one that hit Texas Dec. 22-25, 2022, hits the state again.

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ERCOT's Monthly Outlook for Resource Adequacy for January shows that for the hour ending at 8 am in January, the grid would have a 20.6% chance of entering an energy emergency alert and 16.8% chance of ordering rotating outages if a winter storm similar to December 2022 occurred in January.

"Note that winter storm scenarios also account for incremental unplanned wind outages due to severe storm events," the report states.

For a similar scenario in the December MORA, the EEA probability was 17.9%, and the rotating outage probability was 14.4%.

Highest risk in morning

"Reserve shortage risks are the highest during the morning hours when daily loads are typically at their highest and just before and during the solar production ramp up," the January report states. "There is also some higher risk in the evening hours due to increasing loads with a secondary peak occurring around hour ending [at] 9 pm."

Under normal weather conditions, the risk at that morning hour of an EEA is just 7.6%, and the risk of having to order rotating outages is just 6.7%.

However, the system's planning reserve margin is 43.7%, more than three times the 13.75% that has previously been deemed the minimum necessary to ensure a capacity-related blackout occurs no more often than one day in 10 years. The reserve margin is the percent by which expected available resources exceed expected peak demand.

Under normal conditions, ERCOT expects to have 87.2 GW of resources to serve an expected 71.7 GW of demand during the hour ending at 8 am, the January MORA states. In addition, the system should have another 5.3 GW of emergency resources.

RFP for capacity issued

ERCOT has issued a request for proposal for as much as 3 GW of dispatchable resources – either generation or demand response – that could lessen the chances for an EEA or rotating outage.

On Oct. 31, Chad Seely, ERCOT senior vice president and general counsel, filed a memo to the Public Utility Commission of Texas regarding "an internal guidance document that includes key data points and principles for evaluating the total costs of procurement" (Project No. 55633)

ERCOT met with PUC staff and the independent market monitor to develop the guidance document, including recommended target budgets, Seely said, but these numbers were not filed publicly to avoid "entities structuring their offers to target the maximum price they expect ERCOT may be willing to pay."

The offer submission deadline is Nov. 10, after which ERCOT is "ready to further coordinate with Commission Staff and the IMM," Seely said, with a filing set for Nov. 22 detailing awards and the evaluation process.

"We will be prepared to answer any questions you may have at the Nov. 2, 2023, Open Meeting," Seely said.