- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) says it has sufficient generation lined up for the winter and spring ahead, and will allow Vistra Energy to retire its 1,800 MW Monticello power plant in Titus County.
- A decision on two other proposed closures, Vistra's Sandow and Big Brown plants, will be made by mid-December. The two have a combined nameplate capacity of roughly 2,300 MW.
- Despite the closures, ERCOT officials say they have almost 81,000 MW of total resource capacity available for peak demand this winter, well above the projected demand peak of 61,000 MW .
Texas generation mix is changing, a fact evidenced by the grid operator preparing to strike about 4,000 MW of generation from its books but still expects to meet peak demand without a problem.
"Given these capacity reductions, ERCOT still expects to have sufficient systemwide operating reserves for the winter season," Resource Adequacy Manager Pete Warnken said in a statement. "Our studies show this would be the case even with a much higher-than-expected peak demand."
In addition, the anticipated capacity reductions include a long-term forced outage of a gas-fired plant in the Houston area, and delays in the projected in-service dates for two wind projects.
According to ERCOT's Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) report for the upcoming winter season, there will be almost 81,000 MW available for peak demand this winter. And additional planned resources for the winter season include nearly 1,400 MW of new capacity, mostly wind and solar projects.
ERCOT said it expects the new renewables to contribute 209 MW to the winter peak. Based on expected peak weather conditions, the spring assessment anticipates a seasonal peak of more than 59,000 MW.
As cheap gas-fired power forces uneconomical Texas coal plants to retire, the fuel could be overtaken by wind resources. According to Joshua Rhodes, research fellow at the University of Texas Austin’s Energy Institute, "it’s conceivable that energy generation from wind could possibly overtake coal in the near future. Wind's installed capacity will exceed coal's in 2018, he predicts.
Rhodes expects ERCOT coal capacity to fall to 14,700 MW and wind to reach 24,400 MW, next year.