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ERCOT real-time prices near $9,000/MWh in face of winter blast, outages

Highlights

Above $1,000/MWh most of weekend

About 2.6 million without power

Houston — Real-time prices in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas market surged near the systemwide cap of $9,000/MWh the morning of Feb. 15, after doing so for an hour late Feb. 14 and spending almost the entire weekend above $1,000/MWh, as market participants struggled with generation outages resulting in rolling blackouts early on Feb. 15.

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Intense cold and stormy weather has hit ERCOT hard, with as much as 25,000 MW of generation having tripped offline since early Feb. 15 causing first rotating blackouts across the region and then the loss of power for more than 2.6 million people across ERCOT by midday, according to PowerOutage.us.

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As of about noon CT Feb. 15, the top five transmission and distribution utilities in terms of outages were:

  • Oncor: 1.2 million
  • American electric Power: 351,453
  • CPS Energy: 212,615
  • Austin Energy: 196,111
  • Pedernales Electric Cooperative: 141,479

CenterPoint Energy, which provides transmission to the Houston area, said at 10:30 am CT Feb. 15 that 500,000 of its customers were without power, but PowerOutage.us as of noon reported about 96,000 customers without power. The CenterPoint Energy power outage map was unavailable on the Internet.

A spokesman for the company said ERCOT had asked utilities in the state to drop load and keep outages sustained. "We need to get some generation back in the system," the spokesman said on local Houston television.

"We have to get the generation back on, that is just fundamental," the CenterPoint spokesman said. "Without generation we cannot raise load."

The spokesman said generators are doing their best to make repairs, "but it takes time," he said. "We have to conserve load. Every single watt counts."