Report: Texas Power Demand Could Soon Exceed Supply

Study raises "significant concerns" about electricity generation in Texas

By Scott Gordon
|  Thursday, Dec 1, 2011  |  Updated 11:38 PM CDT
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A federal report raises

Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News

A federal report raises "significant concerns" about Texas' ability to generate enough electricity.

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ERCOT Plans for the Future

ERCOT says there's enough power generation to meet the anticipated demand, but new analysis of long-range needs are due in late September, and could mean new challenges.
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Texas may not be able to generate enough electricity to power the state to periods of extreme demand, forcing rolling blackouts in the months ahead, according to a federal report.

The study by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. raises "significant concerns" about the state's ability to produce enough electricity.

In an extreme cold snap this winter, Texas would need 60,000 megawatts of power, but the state can only generate 57,000 megawatts, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

ERCOT operates the state's power grid.

Next summer, Texas expects to have a 12 percent margin in reserve generating capacity -- the cushion needed to prevent outages. That's short of the 13.75 percent needed to ensure reliable power during peak times.

And the situation could get even worse in 2013, according to the federal report.

"While it may have been tight last year, it could be even tighter in the coming winter, what about the one after that if you haven't addressed the issue?" asked Ken Morgan, director of Texas Christian University's Energy Institute.

He said Texas simply isn't doing enough to add more power generating stations.

"We want the lights on, we want the heat on, we want the hospitals going, we want the events we go to going, and we would like better planning," Morgan said.

Without more power plants online and with growing demand, experts warn of more rolling outages such as North Texas experienced during Super Bowl week in February.

Critics also say federal environmental rules may force some older power generating to shut down -- just when Texas needs every megawatt it can generate.

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