AUSTIN, Texas — Electric Reliability Council of Texas officials expect the state's troubled power grid will be able to withstand expected surges in customer demand, despite an expected heat wave across the state next week.
Public Utilities Commission Chairman Peter Lake and ERCOT Interim President and CEO Brad Jones conducted a press conference Thursday morning in Austin on the operational changes their organizations are making to improve grid reliability as the hottest days of summer approach.
One of their first changes will be how the electric grid is stabilized. It's part of the "Roadmap to Improving Grid Reliability." It includes 60 initiatives, 22 of which are completed, Jones said.
The main component is acquiring more reserve energy and pushing it out quicker when needed.
“ERCOT in July has called 38 percent more reserves this year than last year," Lake said. "In August, they’ve already procured 56 percent more reserves for this August than they did last August.”
Another fix needs to be limited transmission to constrained areas. Jones said more energy generation needs to be prepared in those areas. He said studies are being done to determine what specific areas need.
“I would include Corpus Christi as an example," said Jones. "Corpus Christi relies on a significant amount of local generation. The transmission is limited into the city and so occasionally we could get into a bind if that generation is not available.”
The leadership said Texas’ troubled power grid could see record levels of demand next week with record heat projected across the state. No power blackouts are expected, but Jones says calls for conservation could happen. There's more people living in Texas than ever before, he said
"We’re projecting somewhere around 74,000 MWH," said Jones "The current record is 74,820. So, we’re getting very close to our all time record. As it stands today, looking at our conditions and what we expect to have next week, we expect to have a sufficient amount of generation to serve all of Texas.”
Texas legislature also requires ERCOT to "weatherize."
That includes ERCOT officials Inspecting 31 power generation sites thus far and will soon do site visits to locations in preparation of winter.
Jones believes they have an idea of why their were failures of the system in June. Preliminary reports suspect those failed generators were damaged in the freezing winter weather, there's less time today to take these generators out for inspections and not enough money is provided to keep older generators up-to-date.
These changes planned all go back to trying to be reliable to the consumers.
"We're working off the two guiding principles, first reliability, second accountability," Lake said.
Lake said the priority is working with reliable and accountable providers to overhaul their market design.
“We want our market to pay for reliable electricity in any form," he said. "Thermal dispatchable, renewable with battery, fuel storage on site, etc…there’s a myriad of possibilities but the emphasis is on providing economic incentives for reliable electricity.”
This is the idea for the new market, but no plan will be solidified for the next few months, Lake said.
Does that mean bills will be higher?
“The lights are going to stay on and your bill should not change," said Lake. "Our goal is to reallocate the payments that are currently being made to the most reliable source of power. We don’t want to raise costs. We don’t expect that we will raise costs.”
Jones said each month the public will be made aware on the progress of their 60 initiates. You can find any updates here on Kristv.com.