ERCOT issues multiple energy conservation appeals citing low wind, solar generation



(The Center Square) – ERCOT has issued multiple voluntary conservation appeals as temperatures remained over 100 degrees and wind and solar energy couldn’t meet energy demand.

On Sept. 4, ERCOT also issued a Weather Watch from Sept. 6-8 due to “forecasted higher temperatures, higher electrical demand, and the potential for lower reserves.” It also said grid conditions “are expected to be normal during a Weather Watch” and “there is currently enough capacity to meet forecasted demand.”

ERCOT also announced a new September peak demand record was set of 78,459 MW on Monday, Sept. 4, surpassing the previous September peak of 72,370 MW set on September 1, 2021. The current all-time peak demand record of 85,435 MW was set on August 10.

The latest conservation appeal stated, “Due to a high level of unexpected thermal generation outages and forecasted low wind generation, operating reserves for ERCOT are expected to be low this evening [Aug. 30].” ERCOT requested that Texans conserve electricity use for three hours that night, as it had in previous appeals.

All of its appeals stated ERCOT wasn’t experiencing emergency conditions. The forecasts showed a potential to enter emergency operations “because of a high level of unexpected thermal generation outages and forecasted low wind generation.”

ERCOT said it avoided emergency operations because of conservation efforts made by Texas residents and businesses, “combined with wind improvements and additional grid reliability tools.”

Tools being used to manage grid reliably include “using reserve power, calling upon reductions by large electric customers that have volunteered to lower their energy use, and bringing more generation online sooner.” ERCOT also worked with out-of-state Independent System Operators and Market Participants, it said, to obtain additional power generation capacity. It also said it “obtained Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) enforcement discretion, which allows a generator to extend its service/run-time/operations to help meet demand, if needed, and maintain grid reliability.”

Appealing for energy conservation is “a widely used industry tool,” it says, that’s used to help lower demand during peak energy demand times, which are typically late afternoon into the evening hours.

On August 30, ERCOT issued the appeal due to the unreliability of intermittent energy of wind and solar. These sources cannot generate sufficient energy supply because wind doesn’t blow and sunlight doesn’t shine 24 hours a day. Solar energy goes offline every single night because the sun only shines during the day.

These sources also don’t produce energy reserves; wind and solar energy can’t be stored like crude oil or natural gas is.

ERCOT stated that “wind generation is forecasted to be lower” during peak demand times and “solar generation declines into the evening hours, before completely going offline at sunset.”

It also said there were “high level of unexpected thermal generation outages” during the peak energy hours.

Gov. Greg Abbott and others have mentioned that during these peak times and after the energy conservation appeals, the grid did not fail. There have been no widespread power outages this summer.

At the same time, ERCOT set a new, all-time, unofficial peak demand record of 85,435 MW on August 10, 2023, it pointed out, surpassing the peak demand last year of 78,465 MW.

This summer alone, ERCOT set 10 new all-time peak demand records, it said. Last summer, ERCOT set 11 new peak demand records with a high of 80,148 MW last July 20.

The grid did not fail during these all-time peak demand records.

On August 29, ERCOT’s appeal was due to wind generation “forecasted to be lower this afternoon/evening during peak demand time” and a “high level of unexpected thermal generation outages.”

On August 27, the appeal was due to “continued statewide extreme temperatures,” “near-record demand due to the heat,” wind generation “forecasted to be lower this afternoon/evening during peak demand time and “solar generation is potentially lower this afternoon before completely going offline at sunset.”

On August 26 and 25, the appeals were due to the same four factors: extreme heat, record demand, and not enough wind or solar generated supply to meet demand.

At a recent TIPRO event in San Antonio, Abbott remarked on the reliability of the grid and how the power hadn’t gone out all summer despite temperatures exceeding 100 degrees for over two months. Energy demand was met largely due to natural gas production. Texas natural gas production continues to break records and meet energy demand. Recognizing this, the legislature this year advanced measures to expand natural gas production and infrastructure to support it.

TIPRO and Texans for Natural Gas have pointed out how natural gas companies in the Permian Basin in west Texas produce some of the cleanest natural gas in the world and how the Texas natural gas industry leads the U.S. in reduced methane emissions. In the first half of 2022, the U.S. became the world’s largest liquid natural gas exporter, led by Texas, according to U.S. Energy Information Agency data.

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