ERCOT Summer Reserve Pooling Added $12 Billion in Costs

by | Dec 9, 2023 | Industry News

How Did Summer Reserve Pooling Impact Texas?

This summer ERCOT used reserve pooling rules to ensure it had enough power. Instead, it added nearly $12 billion to Texas electricity bills.
This summer, ERCOT relied on reserve pooling rules to keep back extra reserve power. But it also created fake shortages costing electricity customers about $12 billion. Learn how it might be fixed.

People are paying close attention to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) lately. And it’s for a good reason because it affects your power to choose. A report by Potomac Economics, a group that keeps an eye on the grid, showed that the rules ERCOT used this summer made consumers pay an extra $12 billion for their electricity.

The problem started with a backup plan ERCOT made after the big power failures in February 2021. They wanted to prevent more blackouts by making power generators keep nearly double the usual backup. But this summer, things went wrong. Despite good intent, Texans felt unintended consequences of summer reserve pooling. 

Fake Summer Shortages and High Prices on ERCOT

Not only did utilities have a hard time dealing with high demand, but ERCOT’s plan made it look like there wasn’t enough power. So wholesale market prices often shot up to about $5,000 per megawatt-hour. Usually, prices stayed under $100 in similar situations. But this summer, ERCOT changed how power was used, making it seem like there wasn’t enough. This fake shortage forced prices to go up. The Potomac Economics said there were also problems managing where power went, so it wasn’t available when needed.

ERCOT rules affects the summer price of electricity on the Texas power grid.
Find out how much more the special ERCOT summer rules might wind up costing Texas ratepayers.

Fixing Problems and Ideas

Different utilities had different problems. Some had to pay a lot to keep running, but others, like San Antonio’s CPS Energy, actually made money because they had extra power. 

There are ideas to fix this, like using batteries to store power and using Texas’ growing ability to store energy. Recently, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) approved a plan called the Emergency Pricing Program (EPP). This plan stops prices from going above $2,000 per megawatt-hour during emergencies, so people won’t have to pay outlandish prices. But it’s too early to say how well this plan will work. PUCT approved EPP on November 30. 

ERCOT: Future Summer Problems and People

ERCOT has a hard job ahead. They need to fix their computer systems, take care of the power market, and follow rules to make sure power is steady and not too expensive. Both ERCOT and PUCT are working to make sure the power grid is strong without making people pay too much. It’s important because Texans rely on cheap electricity rates to get them through the summer heat.

Guard Against High Prices

You can’t control what ERCOT or PUCT do, but you can do things at home. Look for a fixed-rate power plan to avoid high costs. You can find one at

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