Texas Electricity Bills Could Increase Next Summer as Shrinking Supply Meets Record Use

Texans are expected to use a record amount of electricity this summer but excess power available for peak use is half of what was earlier projected, according to the state's grid operator.The state would have capacity to produce 9.3 percent more electricity than what is projected as peak demand during summer, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state's power grid, said Monday.That is well below the 13.75 percent minimum cushion preferred by the authority, and a lot less than its May estimate of 18.9 percent in reserve capacity. The closing of some older power plants and the delay of new ones are to blame. "I wouldn't call it a cause for concern," said Warren Lasher, senior director of system planning. "Reserve margins are expected to fluctuate in the current market design. At the same time, ERCOT has a variety of tools at its disposal to maintain grid reliability."For Texans, that may come at a price. Lasher said the "expectation would be that wholesale energy prices will rise in times of scarcity."Pat Hammond, a spokeswoman for Houston's Reliant Energy, said some prices in the wholesale market increased after Monday's announcement by ERCOT. But she said the company "can't predict what effect tighter supply will mean in the long run."The state is expected to lose about 7,200 megawatts of generation capacity caused mostly by the closing of aging coal-fired plants and delays in the openings of new plants.  Continue reading...

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