ERCOT prepares to revamp power-demand plan ahead of hot summer months

NBC Universal, Inc.

ERCOT leaders plan to revamp their emergency plans for when they need energy quickly during the hot summer months ahead.

At an ERCOT board meeting Tuesday morning, the CEO of the state’s largest power grid said the company's “demand response” plan to add more power to the grid during stressful times was being overhauled.

Tuesday, CEO Pablo Vegas told the board of directors that last year's demand response plan included only three contracts for 10 additional megawatts on the grid. That’s a tiny amount for a grid with a peak capacity of 85,000 megawatts.

Vegas said they were working with Texas A&M to come up with another plan for this summer when the grid will be stretched.  

Summer officially begins on Thursday, and that was top of mind for ERCOT leaders as well because that’s when the state's demand for power comes seriously close to the supply generated. Earlier this month, grid forecasters predicted a 12% chance of rolling blackouts in August. Late summer is the most vulnerable time for the grid because there’s little wind generating power through wind turbines.

Vegas also told the board an ongoing lawsuit between Texas and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could impact future power generation. The Federal government rolled out new rules limiting emissions from coal-powered plants. If finalized, Vegas said it will lower the amount of power they can bring to the grid when they need it most.

 ‘We fully expect over time for older and less efficient resources to be replaced by newer, more efficient resources. That is the way that a healthy market operates,” said Vegas.

“That needs time for that transition to happen. Especially in a period of high growth. When you have high growth, it’s a uniquely different circumstance trying to manage that balance.”

This all comes at a time when the state needs to double the amount of power it generates after power-hundred AI and Crypto-currency data centers popped up around Texas. When asked what keeps him up at night, ERCOT VP of Systems Operations Dan Woodfin said having enough energy.

“The primary one is just do we have demand vs. supply? Do we have enough to cover that?”

Last summer, ERCOT issued a record 11 conservation notices, a scenario that may play out again this summer.

Contact Us