ERCOT Summer Peak Load Forecast Relies More on Renewables

by | May 7, 2023 | Industry News

What Does The ERCOT Summer Forecast Predict?

This summer the ERCOT forecast plans for  an ample reserved margin but it relies mostly on renewables. Find out why some policy makers are leery.
As forecast, the ERCOT summer demand plan relies heavily on renewables. Learn why and how you can prepare for heat and heavy AC usage.

Much of the hubbub in this year’s legislative session has focused on dispatchable fossil fuels. When another bad winter storm or summer heat wave strikes, Texas leaders want power to turn on quickly. Natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants alone won’t meet power demand. However, the ERCOT summer forecast says Texas will need green energy during peak demand hours. PUC chair Peter Lake said Texas “will be relying on renewables to keep the lights on.”

Texas is a growing state. And it isn’t just famous people like Joe Rogan and Elon Musk packing up their families and settling here. More Texans means a greater energy need. So all power sources are important in the Texas energy mix. So, this also makes the ERCOT Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) critical to preparing for the coming months. 

Planning Reserve Margin

This summer’s peak demand could reach 82,739 MW in normal summer weather conditions. Fortunately, experts say resource capacity will be more than 97,000 MW. The difference between capacity and demand is the planning reserve margin. In recent years, the reserve margin has been painfully thin but this year it’s more than doubled to nearly 34%.

The reserve margin includes green energy like solar and wind. The tough thing about green energy is you can’t turn it on with the flick of a switch. The sun needs to shine, and the wind must blow. Fossil fuel plants like coal and natural gas are easier to start up. Of course, the process is more involved than the flick of a switch. But some natural gas plants can be up and running in minutes. 

The reserve margin should increase over the next year as more solar plants come online. However, the margin will decrease slowly the following years as the population grows and Texas electricity demand rises. 

Brownouts In ERCOT Summer Forecast

The ERCOT summer forecast looks at extreme scenarios. These situations show how well Texas might cope with a major weather event. The SARA forecast also includes the possibility of rolling blackouts under extreme scenarios. An example would be if 5,000 MW of fossil fuel plants and 11,000 MW of renewables all went down during high peak load. It sounds improbably but Winter Storm Uri was an unlikely scenario and that happened. Also possible is that if power plants fail during extreme heat, Texans could experience brownouts. While a black out is the complete loss of power, a brownout is when voltage dips by 10% to 25%. While they don’t last long, they can damage electronics and motors in some appliances. So make sure you pick up a little extra shelf stable food and bottles of water just in case.


Texas Power Plans

No matter this summer’s weather, you need a cheap electric contract for your home. And the best place to shop for one is right here at Find the power plan to lower your bill today!  

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