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Despite growing demand, power capacity reserves in Texas won’t likely run short any time soon.

That appears to be the message from ERCOT, the organization that oversees the state’s power grid, as it releases this week its seasonal and 10-year reserve forecasts.

The new reports analyze both generation capacity and future customer demand for electricity. The reports project generally safe energy reserves but with some areas of uncertainty — especially in the long-term.

“We expect to have enough generation available to serve consumer needs this summer,” said Director of System Planning Warren Lasher. “However, hotter-than-normal weather combined with low-wind conditions or high generation outage rates could cause operating reserves to drop below target levels, making it necessary to take additional actions to maintain grid reliability.”

The summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA), which ERCOT released on May 2, looks back at weather patterns over the previous 13 years to formulate its forecast of peak demand this summer. The report forecasts that Texas homes and businesses will draw no more than 70,588 megawatts of electricity from the grid at any given moment, against 78,434 MW of total generation capacity available to servewind turbine2 that peak demand.

Another report, ERCOT’s preliminary SARA for the fall, also anticipates enough megawatts of generation. One megawatt is enough electricity to serve 200 Texas homes on a hot summer day.

ERCOT this week also released its long-term Capacity, Demand and Reserves report that forecasts generation resources and energy demand for the next 10 years. According to the CDR report, generation capacity should exceed peak demand by at least 15 percent through 2026. Such reserve margins generally are deemed acceptable by experts.

Lasher, however, did sound a note of caution. “We continue to see sufficient planning reserve margins in the 10-year outlook — however, this report also includes generation resources that could be affected by environmental regulations, and future decisions by resource owners may impact these projected planning reserve margins,” he said.

Since the last CDR report was released in December, nearly 1,000 MW of new generation also has come online. Going forward, the CDR projects continued growth in wind generation — with about 11,000 MW of planned additions by 2019.

The next CDR update is scheduled for release in December 2016.

— R.A. Dyer

What is the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power?

R.A. Dyer is a policy analyst for TCAP, a coalition of more than 160 cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.

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