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Texas Could Still Struggle With Power in 2013

ERCOT projections improve but reserves decrease

Monday, Dec 10, 2012  |  Updated 1:10 PM CDT
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Texas Could Still Struggle With Power in 2013

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

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The agency that oversees most of the Texas power grid says future power projections have improved but the state could still struggle with peak demand -- possibly even next summer.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, said Monday that the long-term margins have improved but projected reserves for the summer of 2013 have decreased.

“Although peak demand is expected to grow less quickly than previous economic predictions indicated, we should continue to encourage new generation and develop more demand response options to reduce our electric use during periods of highest use — the hottest hours of the hottest days of summer," said Trip Doggett, ERCOT chief executive officer.

The Texas population is booming and is expected to nearly double in the coming decades. Power generation is not expanding as quickly.

“While several entities have announced plans for new generation that is likely to come on-line in future years, those projects have not yet acquired the level of certainty required to be included in this report,” said Warren Lasher, ERCOT director of system planning. “The long-term outlook will change over time as new projects move forward.”

ERCOT anticipates  the grid will have 74,633 megawatts of power to serve an anticipated high of 65,592 megawatts next summer.  The difference leaves a reserve margin of 13.2 percent in the upcoming summer, slightly below its target of 13.75 percent.

By 2014, those reserves will drop to 10.9 percent, still below target but more than had been forecast. The margin will continue to drop, hitting 2.8 percent by 2022.

A single megawatt is enough power to serve about 200 homes during peak usage, which generally occurs between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the summer months.

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