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ERCOT OKs 905 MW of generation capacity for commercial operation in January

Highlights

Power prices may weaken, become more volatile

Cumulative wind tops 29 GW, solar tops 8.5 GW

  • Author
  • Mark Watson
  • Editor
  • Richard Rubin
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Energy Transition Natural Gas

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas in January approved almost 905 MW of generation – mostly renewables -- for commercial operation, and another 1.6 GW of renewable capacity neared commercial operation, which would tend to weaken wholesale power prices overall but may increase price volatility.

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ERCOT's latest Generation Interconnection Status Report, released late Feb. 2, showed a 100-MW gas-fired generator approved for commercial operation in Victoria County southwest of Houston, a 201.5-MW solar site in Jones County about 170 miles due west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, and about 603 MW of nameplate wind capacity at the following locations:

  • 366.6 MW in Wilbarger County on the Texas-Oklahoma state line north of Fort Worth
  • 220 MW in Refugio County on the Texas Gulf Coast about 60 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas
  • 16 MW in Howard County in the Permian Basin area of West Texas

Forward prices for the July-August package traded down about $4 on Feb. 3 to about $92.25/MWh on the Intercontinental Exchange the morning of Feb. 3. So far in 2022, that package's daily settlements in the S&P Global Platts price database have averaged $88.65/MWh, ranging from a minimum of $83.88/MWh on Jan. 4 to a maximum of about $96.15/MWh on Feb. 2.

Renewables gaining share

As of the end of 2021, ERCOT had in operation 56.9 GW of gas-fired generation capacity, 28.4 GW of wind capacity and 8.3 GW of solar capacity, according to the grid operator's monthly Capacity Changes by Fuel Type Charts.

In addition to the new capacity approved for commercial operation, ERCOT had 1.4 GW of renewables – wind, solar and battery storage -- with synchronization approved, meaning the capacity was connected to the grid and operating but not participating in power markets in January.

Also in January, ERCOT approved 183.2 MW of solar capacity for energization, meaning it could be connected to the grid and systems periodically energized for testing purposes.

In contrast, ERCOT in January added more than 810 MW of nameplate wind and solar capacity to the list of projects deemed inactive, because they failed to meet certain completion benchmarks.

Also, developers withdrew about 1.2 GW of solar and 14 MW of wind capacity additions from the generation interconnection process.

ERCOT generation project status changes in January
Commercial operation approved
(MW)
Natural gas
100.0
Solar
201.5
Wind
602.6
Synchronization approved
Solar
546.8
Storage
263.1
Wind
594.2
Energization approved
Solar
183.2
Deemed inactive
Solar
203.4
Wind
506.8
Canceled
Solar
1,173.1
Wind
14.0
Source: Electric Reliability Council of Texas