ERCOT Report Warns That Starting Next Summer, Texas Won't Have Enough Power

Categories: Science

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On Tuesday we told you about a report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation -- an entity tasked by the feds with ensuring the lights stay on -- that singled out Texas as a state that may not have the electrical reserves to meet peak demand by 2013.

Officials at ERCOT were initially mum as they prepared for the release of a biannual 10-year outlook, though they did assert that new environmental regs will result in the mothballing of generating units, and that the ongoing drought will make the near future tricky. According to a release today, teasing the highlights of a report that should be available this afternoon, NERC's findings aren't at all off-base. In fact, power reserves will probably fall short of ERCOT's minimum target by next summer.

Texas's electric reliability council sets minimum reserve margins so that, in the event of severe winter or summer weather, there's enough juice to prevent blackouts. Dip below that target, and rolling blackouts are possible. Even ERCOT's projections for this winter are razor-thin in some extreme-weather scenarios.

Further out into the future, the target reserve margins -- calculated as the difference between capacity and anticipated peak load, pegged at about 14 percent to maintain reliability -- dip to as low as 4 percent in 2017, leaving little breathing room as demand placed on the grid by a growing state swells.

If we get into trouble, Texas can't borrow capacity from a neighbor like a cup of sugar. While the rest of the country is organized into huge, interdependent regions, Texas's grid is isolated.

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Dano
Dano

For this you can Governor Perry for his role in deregulating the state's electrical grid.  Yet another example of how he sold out Texans.

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

DAAAYUMMMMNN!! I'm checking into that generator. Thanks.

Adam Dehart
Adam Dehart

So is Texas separated from the grid because of that whole secession thing?

Anon
Anon

I seem to remember a number of years ago that the Texas grid was spared some fairly extensive blackouts that happened east of here a ways, because ERCOT is not hooked up with the rest of the country.

It works both ways.

scottindallas
scottindallas

No, it was broadly supported, and today, after all these evidence of it's utter failure, we see no one suggesting we repeal the stupid policy.

claytonauger
claytonauger

Huh, actually that dereg thing was the idea of Dallas' own then -state representative Steve Wolens (D).

scottindallas
scottindallas

No, it was broadly supported, and today, after all these evidence of it's utter failure, we see no one suggesting we repeal the stupid policy.

copywrite
copywrite

Less than 24 hours after ERCOT warned us we might be short of power...the electricity in my condo complex went out. It began stuttering about 9:15 a.m.; by 9:30 it was gone; about 2:30 p.m. it began coming back on in fits and starts; it finally achieved a steady state at 5:30 p.m.

What a day! 

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Wait ! If they UP GRADE the system it will eat into profits.....

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

I remember while living in Chicago in the 1990's and we had the big brown out due to the lack of grid power at ComEd. Over 700 people died in the city alone. They had to use refrigerator trucks to hold the bodies since all of the morgues were full.

So Mayor Daley, called the ComEd execs in one day, and they left with their balls in a paper sack. Within two years, the grid was upgraded to the tune of I think $1 billion.That will be the only way to make things happen. Dead bodies, and/or executive balls rolling around on the floor. Works every time.

CollinBabs
CollinBabs

I was in Chicago at that time, too!  It was awful, and I remember that a famous food company wanted to reuse the refrigerator trucks it loaned out to the morgues.  City health officials were horrified at the silly idea and that just added to the sense of urgency to never again experience such a devastating scenario.

The electricity and water crises will be what forces me out of my beloved Texas due to the gross mismanagement, ineptitude, and idiocracy (note: failure to plan) which makes it less enjoyable to live here. Pains me deeply to consider such an exodus...

And dontcha just luv the elec co's push for electric cars under the guise of eco-efficiency? They really want to just make you buy more of their juice (KA CHING) yet feel good about it. I won't buy an all electric house and I won't buy an electric car either.

scottindallas
scottindallas

It is thought that the majority of electrical charging would happen at night, when our demand is lower. 

james
james

constantly tryin' to sell us useless crap that makes us more dependent on them so they can leave our asses hangin' out with no fuckin' power after emtyin' our pockets. scumbags.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I hate to say it, but its going to take a massive electrical failure similar to what happened last winter during the super bowl, with several deaths or injuries, to get these idiots in motion. Instead of Perry The Mong jumping down the throats of Encor, Reliant and others this last winter, he played the "washington" card and blamed the POTUS. Instead of shifting blame, take some of your own and bring the electricty business back under one umbrella.

cp
cp

Perry has utterly ruined our once great state. 

james
james

since the electric companies don't keep an office any more...the occupiers can't even protest them. can't even call them any more to tell them about downed power lines'cause they've made their incompetent thievin' scumbag selves so inaccessible. only contact you can get with'em is to pay yer bill to some funny talkin' furriner that cain't speak english. does anyone remember that electric company bigshot that got on tv and said some horshit like 'we understand that we must communicate with our customers better'. so they steal our money, rack up maximum record profits, constantly try to sell us more crap that makes us more dependent on them, then they don't put any of these record profits back into the business they just use and take. fuck the lousy customers. let'em freeze or fry. our computer message told you we were sorry for your 'inconvenience'. if any of you old or sick weaklings freeze to death in yer all-electric home we suckered ya into, or ya die from heat stroke, our computer voice is sorry for your inconvenience. the rest of us could give a fuck.

JRinDallas
JRinDallas

Repeat it.  Write it down.  Engrave it in Dealey Plaza.  Tattoo to it to your forehead...ERCOT and TX's inability to meet demand in the near and medium term has everything to do with rank incompetence, political cravenness, intransigence, and inability to comprehend the Federal regulatory process.

These EPA regs have been pending for years now.  EDF, Comrade Obama, nor Nancy Pelosi have anything to do with the proposed regulations.  These proposed regulations began under Bush II and, the EPA, only under recent court order have been pushed to finalize them.  If and when they're finalized utilites and ERCOT have almost 10 yrs or more to phase in the changes.  There are reports and news items available via the Google with comments and conclusions from coal companies and grid operators coast-to-coast who are just fine with the EPA regs and have been ready for them for some time now.

Again, this is all about ERCOT, TX utilities, and their political lackies' inability to make a plan to meet and/or reduce demand for electricity in Texas.  Period.  End of story.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

I think I'm in love with JR.

Anon
Anon

Because they decided to gamble. It's not so unlike the big banks who assumed they'd get a bailout when the disastrous bets them made didn't pay off. When push comes to shove, they figured that if they held out, they'd be granted exceptions to the rules because the resulting power failures would cripple the economy.This is like states (like Florida) that are failing to do the required work to set up exchanges for health insurance because they are praying the law gets overturned or SCOTUS shoots it down. In the meantime, they are failing to take the prudent steps that would bring them into compliance with the law. If you blatantly ignore laws and regulations because you don't agree with them and hope they will go away if you pray hard enough, don't start crying when people reveal your ineptitude in coming into compliance with them while also meeting the needs of your population.

Kevin H
Kevin H

It's also about Texas having one of the most terribly laid out power grids in the Nation, with little to no backup. De-Regulation now makes it somebody else's problem to improve our grid ?

JRinDallas
JRinDallas

I wouldn't say it's terribly laid out.  Well, can't speak to the layout but the fact that we're an island isn't, or shouldn't, be all bad.

While it's nice for other states in other regions to draw power from elsewhere, those state and communities where the energy is used also see little, or none, of the benefits of being energy producers.  Texas having its own grid is actually a pretty great opportunity.  Renewables are plentiful as well as natural gas (and, unfortunately, lignite).  We don't have the administrative nightmare of having to coordinate the actions of multiple utility commissions, multiple grid operators, and multiple state rules and regulations to deliver the power we want to our grid.

Texas having its own grid is actually a pretty great opportunity.  Too bad the opportunity is more often squandered.

Montemalone
Montemalone

It's okay, we'll just implement alternate side of the street A/C.

Kevin H
Kevin H

Only in the USA would we create an "Agency" to oversee the Utilities...that do not have to do a thing the "Agency" tells them to do. Worse yet, the "Agency" is run by a bunch of Rick Perry nut danglers and ex-utility company executives...Foxes running the Chicken Coop Chapter 101.

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Thank you Ron Kirk, Environmental Defense Fund, Big Green and Henry Kravits. Y'all done good. Earl Nye warned of this when the freaks were busting up TXU. Turnes out he was right. The enviro ineptocrats must be proud. 

claytonauger
claytonauger

Freaks like Investor bankers?  Because that's who bought the company and began to run it further into the ground by not investing in new equipment/plants.

scottindallas
scottindallas

It's deregulation, not the EPA.  DEREGULATION

james
james

it's massive theft an' robbery. don't need them big words to say theft an' robbery.

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

I see the revisionists are out in force. See Texas Monthly October 2006 article by S C Gwyn. You may also wish to revisit the absolute bullshit your ex-Mayor Ron Kirk dreamed up to support his client EDF and the takeover of TXU cuz they wanted to build some next-gen coal plants that can burn lignite much cleaner than Big Brown.   But then again y'all are part of the butterfly fart and pixy dust collective so why bother.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Burning lignite cleanly is more of a fairy story than anything else.  "Clean Coal" is a lie:  sure, it might be cleaner than previous modes of coal power, but it's still dirty as hell compared to gas, gasification, or nuclear. 

Placet2
Placet2

One utility company in South Texas is working to build another tie into Mexico. Already getting excess power from there now.

AskTheMexican
AskTheMexican

Each home should have a built in generator, courtesy of ERCOT and Oncor. Just sayin .. :)

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Because we have diesel fuel coming out our asses?

AskTheMexican
AskTheMexican

Plano just might have Diesel pouring out their arses. If ya do, give us poor folk some, please. Lort bless you.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Does this mean we get another summer of press releases telling us to keep our thermostats at 85 degrees and other ridiculous "tips" that would leave normal people incredibly uncomfortable in this land that is only reasonably habitable due to the genius of air conditioning?

Hey, let's resurrect the stupid "we HAVE to have the right to inefficient incandescent light bulbs!" debate!

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

We only have to set our thermostats so high so the people who think it doesn't pertain to them don't have to.  Same with the water, we conserve so their lawns can stay lush and green and their flowers blooming for what seems the whole year.

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