ERCOT: New gas plants can meet summer power generation demand

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The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released its final seasonal assessment of resource adequacy (SARA) for this coming spring and a preliminary outlook for summer.

Tight conditions are expected on the power grid in early summer, but more than 2,100 MW from four new natural gas-fired power plants are expected to help improve the late summer outlook.

The new plants — Ferguson, Panda Sherman, Panda Temple I and Deer Park Energy Center — are scheduled to begin operations by August 1, with one unit expected online in early July.

ERCOT has recently broken several past records for electricity demand. Peak demand March 3 reached 54,549 MW, exceeding ERCOT’s previous March peak demand record, set in 2002, by more than 11,500 MW at a time many power generators were beginning their spring maintenance outages.

Summer peak demand is projected to exceed 68,000 MW. ERCOT’s all-time record peak of 68,305 MW happened August 3, 2011. The preliminary summer outlook says reserves will remain above 3,000 MW with normal generation outages and 2002-2013 average weather patterns. Both the spring and summer assessments count wind power at 8.7 percent of its installed capacity.

The final summer SARA will be released in early May.