Generation outages cause Texas grid scare once again

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The Texas power grid, which nearly collapsed due to generation outages during historic winter cold, is being stretched tight again.

The culprit is not freezing temperatures which dropped to sub-zero for several days in February, but “tight grid conditions” caused a higher level of generation outage than usual during the pre-summer heat. The system operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas asked customers to reduce electric use “as much as possible” through Friday.

“Generator owners have reported approximately 11,000 MW of generation is on forced outage for repairs; of that, approximately 8,000 MW is thermal and the rest is intermittent resources,” reads the ERCOT news release. “According to the summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy, a typical range of thermal generation outages on hot summer days is around 3,600 MW. One MW typically powers around 200 homes on a summer day.”

Wind output on Monday totaled between 3,500 and 6,000 MW during 3 p.m.-9 p.m. peak demand period. This is about 1,500 MW lower than typical for peak demand, which was estimated at 73,000 MW and maybe above.

“The peak demand record for June is 69,123 MW set on June 27, 2018 between 4 and 5 p.m.,” reads the ERCOT statement.

Texans apparently responded to the ERCOT call for conservation even through peak demand hit a new June record. Power generators, meanwhile, completed some repairs which allowed some 1,200 MW back online.

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About 52 of generation capacity was offline in February when Winter Storm Uri forced load shedding and power disruptions. Close to 100 people died from the weather exposure, according to reports.

In April, an investor group called Starwood Energy sent ERCOT a letter proposing some $8 billion worth of power infrastructure spending in the state.

Starwood Energy is interested in developing, building and owning 11 new natural gas-fired power plants totaling some 11 GW in capacity.

No decision has been made whether to approve the Starwood proposal.

Author

  • Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the online POWERGEN+ series. He is a 13-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper journalist and trade publication editor. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@clarionevents.com.

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