Texas municipality mothballs 470 MW of coal for the winter
- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) says it will have sufficient generation to meet forecasted peak demand this fall and winter, but has slightly adjusted its resources to account for a 470 MW coal facility opting to go temporarily offline.
- Just as it did last year, the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) will mothball its Gibbons Creek plant in October and instead purchase power in the market. ERCOT officials say they expect the plant to be back online in mid-May or mid-July, when the prices are higher.
- ERCOT's fall Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) indicates more than 81,000 MW of resource capacity is expected to be available for peak demand. But officials say there are a growing number of coal plants choosing to shut down during mild periods when they are unable to compete economically.
Texas officials say there is sufficient generation heading into the fall, but the estimate of available resources is 702 MW lower than believed when the preliminary outlook was published, in part due to a delayed solar project and unit downrates.
But the largest reason for the decline is the storage of the 470 MW Gibbons Creek facility, owned by four Texas communities: Bryan, Denton, Garland and Greenville.
Seasonal availability is a growing trend for coal plants, ERCOT officials said during the grid operator's call to announce the resource outlook. TMPA did the same thing last year; no one at the organization was available to comment.
But despite fewer coal plants being available, the grid will have sufficient resources officials said. They are predicting a 58,619 MW fall peak demand forecast, far lower than available generation due to milder temperatures in the colder season.
Balancing the loss of the coal plant and other resources, the grid operator said that since preliminary fall outlook a pair of gas-fired power plants, one wind project and three solar projects have become operational amounting to more than 900 MW of capacity.
The fall capacity report in the SARA notes a total mothballed capacity of 1,136 MW, but that does not appear to include Gibbons Creek.
ERCOT's preliminary SARA report for winter 2018-19 anticipates a seasonal peak demand of 61,780 MW. The grid recorded its all-time winter peak earlier this year, when demand reached 65,915 MW in January.
Follow Robert Walton on Twitter