ERCOT has released its latest Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy for the summer months. The organization anticipates that the Texas electric grid will have no trouble meeting the demand for electricity during the hot summer months from June – September. The report forecasts a peak demand of 73,000 megawatts for electricity during the period. This is based on the average demand for that same period over the last 14 years.
Against this demand, officials are projecting a peak production capacity of 83,000 MW. Included in this total is 2,500 MW of new natural gas powered generation and 800 MW of new wind and utility scale solar generation. Because of the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy generation, only 350 MW of peak power from wind and solar are being included in the projections of summer capacity.
There is no new coal power electricity generation included in the forecast. Coal continues its multi-year decline across the U.S. and in Texas in particular due to a combination of environmental regulations, competition from renewable energy sources and cheap natural gas. Cheap natural gas more than anything else has helped to keep electricity rates in Texas low for several years.
In a separate report, ERCOT looked at generation over the next five years. The trend is unsurprising. Summer capacity is expected to rise to over 87,000 MW hours in 2022. Wind, Solar and Gas are expected to grow both in real terms and as a percentage of total capacity. Coal is expected to continue to decline.
The Texas electricity market continues to be a model for the benefits of energy deregulation. Capacity and reliability continue to improve. This is occurring with a lower per kWh environmental impact thanks to the proliferation of renewable energy in the state. Additionally, giving consumers the power to choose their electricity provider has led to innovations in the way electricity is sold to end users. All of this is occurring in an environment of sustained low rates.