ERCOT, the Texas electricity authority, reported an increase in total system-wide electricity usage for 2015. This is due in large part to record breaking summer demand for power which saw a peak demand record of almost 70,000 megawatts. In total, Texans served by ERCOT consumed 347.5 million MWh of electricity which constituted a 2.2% increase in demand over 2014.
2015 saw a streak of new record peaked demand periods. The top 5 all-time peak demand records all came within a one week period in the summer.
69,877 MW — Aug. 10, 2015
69,775 MW — Aug. 11, 2015
68,979 MW — Aug. 6, 2015
68,731 MW — Aug. 7, 2015
68,683 MW — Aug. 5, 2015
Wind continued its ascendance in the Texas electricity market, surpassing nuclear to become the third largest source of power. Wind energy accounted for 11.7% of the state’s power usage for the year. Cheap natural gas meanwhile continued to displace coal generation. For the year natural gas accounted for almost half of the state’s power while coal fell from 36.0% to 28.1%.
Energy usage in 2015 consistently exceeded 2014 with only the month of December seeing a decrease over the previous year due to moderate weather.
The mild and windy December led to an impressive showing for Texas’ wind portfolio. On December 20th Texas set a new all-time record for wind energy production with wind turbines contributing over 40% of the system-wide electricity at times. For many, this came as proof that the state’s infrastructure can, in fact, handle the intermittent nature of wind power without causing problems for the grid.
2015 also saw the first Texas city to commit to becoming become 100% dependent on renewable energy. What made the announcement of Georgetown all the more remarkable is the fact that the switch is driven by the desire for cheap electricity rather than purely environmental considerations.