ERCOT: High temperatures spark 4 peak demand records in 1 week

Dive Brief:

  • Air conditioning load strained the Electric Reliability Council of Texas' grid this week, setting four new peak records and coming close to exceeding the peak demand the operator had previously anticipated.
  • Between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. yesterday the grid saw peak demand reach 70,531 MW and then 70,572 MW. The new peaks topped another record set Monday, by more than 400 MW.
  • Though ERCOT's load forecast indicates load may exceed 70,000 MW again today, officials say they are confident they can meet the demand are pleased with how the system is operating.

Dive Insight:

August in Texas is hot, and it makes sense that the ERCOT system would see its highest loads in that month. But a glance at the last 8 system peaks shows demand is growing rapidly.

While the numbers from this week have yet to be finalized, the 70,572 MW of demand seen late afternoon yesterday brushed up against the grid's projected peak demand of 70,588 MW it had identified in its summer Capacity, Demand and Reserves analysis.

"We’re pleased that the system continues to perform well as the need for air conditioning drives up demand," ERCOT Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin said in a statement. "These hot summer days always put our grid to the test, and we have had sufficient generation available to carry us through these high-demand periods."

Demand is expected to reach or surpass 70,000 MW again today, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. The grid operator said it is working with market participants to ensure it can meet demand.

"Based on current projections, we also don’t expect any issues tomorrow," Woodfin said. "That will depend in part on whether generation, including wind, remains available at levels similar to what we saw today."

ERCOT released its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy and Capacity, Demand and Reserves reports earlier this year, finding the region would have sufficient generation but also identifying "uncertainties that could affect outcomes." The region has been developing new capacity to meet demand, and the summer SARA report included 680 MW of additional natural gas-fired generation, 410 MW of new planned wind generation capacity and a small amount of grid-level solar generation capacity.

While the numbers for this week still need to clear, and may include exports, these are ERCOT's peak demand levels from the last five years:

70,572 MW – Aug. 10, 2016

70,531 MW – Aug. 10, 2016

70,169 MW – Aug. 8, 2016

70,009 MW – Aug. 8, 2016

69,877 MW – Aug. 10, 2015

68,912 MW – Aug. 6, 2015

68,459 MW – Aug. 5, 2015

68,305 MW – Aug. 3, 2011

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Filed Under: Generation