Checking in on ERCOT

We pose this question because ERCOT recently released information on the Texas grid, reporting that there would not be any declared emergencies or scrambles for energy. It’s looking like there will be enough electrical capacity to last the rest of the year. This is of course a welcome change compared to the record-setting summer we had here recently.

According to the actual SARA report just released by ERCOT, there will be almost 84,000 MW total, with an expected peak of close to 61,000. This means that the reserve capacity will sit at a comfortable 22,900 and some change. No need to panic or call for energy-saving procedures across the state.

But as a reminder, the data and projections are compiled and forecasted using weather stats from years prior. They are not infallible, but because the weather is the definition of chaos, it’s impossible to completely know whether the grid will have enough. It’s looking safe enough to assume that Texas will be fine.

Speaking of ERCOT and predictions though, they are facing legal backlash because of their grid projections. 

Predictions Mean Hot Water for ERCOT?

ERCOT, the grid overseer for 90% of Texas’ state load, they have been in hot water because of a recent lawsuit with Panda Power. According to this source, ERCOT stated they needed much more energy generation than was really needed. Panda Power then built power plants to fulfill ERCOT’s urgent needs. As a consequence of there being plenty of electricity, Panda couldn’t generate enough revenue because supply was too abundant to cover the costs of maintaining their plants. They are suing ERCOT as a result of misleading information. 

As the aforementioned source says, Panda is “alleging that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas intentionally manipulated the projections to encourage new power plant construction and relieve the political pressure that was building on the grid manager.”

As the argument goes: because of ERCOT’s sovereign immunity status, what’s really stopping them from manipulating information whenever they want, if there are no legal repercussions for ERCOT

Natural Gas to Ensure Stronger Grid?

Lastly, this one seems to be an obvious question. With coal and nuclear being lessened across the country, natural gas will have to be ramped up to saddle the void that coal and nuclear leave behind. Renewables only account for about 11% of energy in the U.S.. 

So, as the PJM Interconnection is doing, natural gas will probably be needed to make sure that grids stay on reliably while the entire Nation’s renewable infrastructure has time to develop and catch up to always-increasing demand.