ERCOT Expects Enough Summer Capacity On Grid

The state's electric generation capacity will be tight this summer, according to a preliminary assessment from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

ERCOT'S Kent Saathoff says even with a hotter-than-expected summer, there should be enough power to go around.

"However, if we have another summer like last summer — which was an all-time hottest summer we've had — or if we have significant number of generator outages that are higher than normal, then we could be into a situation of rolling outages."

Drought last year caused problems with getting enough cooling water to generators, and Saathoff says this preliminary assessment looks at that.

"Recent rains have helped the situation, so we do not expect the drought to have a significant affect on generator availability this summer. However, if the drought picks back up and continues, it could be an issue in 2013."

The recent rains have bought some time to deal with future drought scenarios, and Saathoff says ERCOT has been meeting with generators to make plans.

"The generators shared a lot of the steps they have taken and are preparing to take to mitigate any effect of the drought. That includes a number of things: pumping supplemental water from nearby lignite mines into the cooling reservoirs, possibly pumping water from other watersheds that are not having drought issues. So yes, there are things can be done to mitigate it."

With this latest assessment, Saathoff says ERCOT can meet the peak demand on the grid, barring above-normal generation outages from maintenance shutdowns.

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Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...