University of Houston Energy Fellow Ed Hirs predicts trouble when it comes to the Texas electricity grid meeting demand this summer.
"It's going to be tight this summer,” Hirs said. “I think everybody would be well advised to be prepared for rotating blackouts."
A newly released reliability assessment from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, or NERC, puts Texas at an elevated risk of energy emergencies during extreme conditions.
Still, NERC’s key findings showed Texas has made improvements. The state raised anticipated reserve margins thanks to solar and wind energy. Also, the renewable capacity is 4,100 megawatts higher than last year.
"Which is predominantly solar and some wind it has raised their anticipated reserve margins above the reference margin levels,” NERC Reliability Assessments Manager Mark Olson said. “It eases concerns over prior years over capacity shortfalls for their normal peak demand period."
ERCOT leaders highlighted increases in reserves just one day before the NERC report was released.
"Two years ago we had 12%,” ERCOT interim President and CEO Brad Jones said. “Last year we had 15 to 16 and this year we have 23% reserves. So, you can see our reserves have grown over each of those years. We feel very confident about our position this summer."
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Hirs said the state is lacking in other areas though.
"We have less dispatchable power on the grid than we did last summer,” Hirs said. “We have about 63,000 plus megawatts available. That's about a thousand megawatts less than we had last summer. Demand is growing."
Still, other factors could impact our supply like drought, high temperatures, low wind, and heavy demand.
That’s why Hirs warns Texans to be prepared.
"I think everybody needs to be concerned,” Hirs said. “We know that there just hasn't been enough upkeep and maintenance for the generators that we require to be there to maintain supply during the summer."
According to NERC, several parts of North America are at elevated or high risk of energy shortfalls due to above-normal temperatures and drought conditions.