Get Ready To Conserve Electricity. ERCOT's Forecast Says This Summer Could Be Rough

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Heads up, guys. Remember last summer? It was so damned hot Texans were horse-whipping their thermostats. We came this close to rolling blackouts. So close we're pretty sure Public Utility commish Ken Anderson lost some years off of his life, or at least a little hair. We'd like to tell you this summer won't suck too, but then we'd be lying to you.

The degree to which it will suck, however, remains a mystery. Grid manager ERCOT put out its summer forecast Tuesday, and to say that they're cautiously optimistic would be like saying I'm cautiously optimistic that the Mavs will come back to beat Oklahoma City. Could happen, but let's be honest: It's not happening.

ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission have tentatively raised the wholesale price ceiling for electricity, hoping to lure mothballed power plants back into service. So far, the promise of extra dough has brought an additional 430 megawatts back online, enough to power more than 80,000 homes. Consequently, it may also require the use of Mack trucks to haul off all the cash that generators are going to make this summer.

ERCOT has also expanded a program paying companies with big diesel generators to inject electricity into the grid during emergencies. Still, expect the grid manager to beg you to take it easy on the A/C.

So long as this summer isn't as hellacious as the last, and the heat doesn't knock a bunch of power plants offline -- and we actually do take it easy on the A/C -- we should squeak by.

Then again, as commissioner Anderson put it last month: "Anybody who bets money on Texas weather is bound to lose."


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21 comments
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mynameisURL
mynameisURL

Is it hot in here, or is it just me?

Marvin
Marvin

in February, I signed up for TXU Energy MarketEdge, a monthly plan where my electricity price is indexed to the price of natural gas.  I felt pretty smart as I read about gas prices falling, even smug.  Then I got a letter on 4/16 that they're automatically changing my plan, and the price will go up.  I realize they can change a month by month plan whenever they want, but it would have been nice if they would have been honest about the plan description:If gas prices rise, your electricity price goes up.  If gas prices go down, we'll change the plan so your electricity price still goes up.

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

 Yeah, the wholesale price cap is getting raised, so if you aren't locked in with your provider long-term, they're going to pass that cost right on down to you.

Marvin
Marvin

I knew I was taking a risk by not locking in a price, but I thought the risk was the price of gas going up, like they said, not that they would cancel the plan as soon as I benefited from it.  I rent, so it's too late to lock in an annual contract now.

I remember thinking at the time that betting that gas prices would stay low seemed to good to be true, but they offered the plan just two months ago.  Are they totally oblivious to the gas situation, or were they planning all along to just on pull the rug out from under their customers as soon it went wrong for them, and which is worse?

I don't want to get all Occupy, but it seems like it's set up so that the risk is always one way.

Weezwas
Weezwas

 I understand. More than one idea at a time can be sooooo hard on your (tiny) brain! It's OK, just tune into "Dancing With the Stars" or "The Biggest Loser" you'll soon become comfortably numb.Night, night.

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

I don't know if they played you, but the writing has certainly been on the wall for a while. Generators have been complaining about sending the right "price signals," which is just another word for "pay us more."

Marvin
Marvin

If Occupy could stick to that idea, I would be behind them 100%, but yeah, they have so many nutty ideas, that i made sure to distance myself from them.

Weezwas
Weezwas

 Ya' think?

And don't, "get all Occupy" for heaven's sake. Wouldn't want get caught up in the "nutty" idea that just because it can make obscene profits by doing so, an unregulated corporation would set up a "heads-I-win, tails-you-lose" scheme to take advantage of their overly credulous customers. That's just crazy talk!

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

Fear mongering continues and you sheep are all so ready to scream about the cat in the tree.

Pawns your all pawns in this PR shell game!

.......and if by squeak by you mean we use the all the energy available during the peak time of when we as Texans need the most energy, wow that doesn't sound too bad. Paying a few people to use their diesel generators seems more environmental than building a brand new power generating station to only cover needs of 30% of the day on about 10% of the days of the year

So you guys want more government or less government ? You want more excess generating capacity ? 

Paul
Paul

I can see the hockey sticks coming already.

I wouldn't put it past EFH to hold off on bidding in their power late.

I have one serious question to which I have not seen an answer.  Are the power generators limited to a certain percentage of their installed capacity that they can commit to sell?

Sure I may have a 250 MW power plant, but it does not produce power 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

Brantley Hargrove
Brantley Hargrove

I'm not sure if this will answer your question: Some plants only run during peak demand. A coal-fired plant, on the other hand, will probably run all day, unless it's down for scheduled maintenance. I don't think they're limited to a certain amount, it's just what makes sense for the type of plant. And when it gets really hot, I imagine everybody will be all in, especially since that offer cap got bumped up.

Paul
Paul

 I'm just wondering ... What prevents the electric power generators from "overbooking" their power sales?

Porkistanis_suck
Porkistanis_suck

Basically US infrastructure is crumbling to 3rd world country standards...

HEY YOU, IN THE BACK
HEY YOU, IN THE BACK

 We have a bunch of shiny pro sports venues to help us forget about that stuff.

cp
cp

No, Texas infrastructure. 

mark zero (Jason)
mark zero (Jason)

It's a lot more than Texas. Have you seen our nation's highways? All those bridges, crumbling away.

Porkistanis_suck
Porkistanis_suck

Sorry, didn't know Texas was not in the US...

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Wonder how the politicians have benifited from this?   After all they are the ones who have been on this band waggon.

NotTheSuburbs
NotTheSuburbs

The electric grid in all the states that didn't de-regulate is fine.  Other states can also buy power from each other when generating plants go down. 

Texas is the only state on it's own grid so they can keep the evil feds out of their business. Add a poorly though out de-regulation scheme and you have crumbling grid in Texas. 

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