ERCOT determines Gibbons Creek coal plant not necessary for reliability
- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has approved a request by the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) to operate the 470 MW coal-fired Gibbons Creek power for only five months of the year.
- TMPA has informed the Texas grid operator that it is not economical to run the plant in Anderson, Texas, except during the hottest months — from June through September.
- According to Platts, the plant's capacity factor averaged just over 39% through April of this year.
ERCOT last week determined the Gibbons plant was not necessary for system reliability, and allowed the coal plant to operate just a part of the year — when energy prices are highest.
Despite occasional price spikes from hot weather, ERCOT says the Texas grid has sufficient capacity to meet summer loads. Total generation is about 82,000 MW, against a summer peak demand forecast of about 73,000 MW. But, as renewables increase the need for fast-ramping generation, less flexible coal plants are running less.
A report released last September by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis showed average capacity factors for major ERCOT coal plants in 2015 were significantly lower than in previous years. Gibbons Creek's capacity factor had fallen below 40% this year, after averaging 86% between 2004 and 2008.
TMPA must decide by Sept. 2018 whether to sell the plant, or its board will have to decide whether to shutter it completely.
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