Texas to have enough power in spring, grid operator says

March 8 (Reuters) - Existing power generating capacity in Texas will suffice to meet peak demand from March through May, the state’s power grid operator said on Wednesday.

Power demand is expected to peak at 59,505 megawatts (MW) in April and at 69,921 MW in May, the grid operator said in its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for spring 2023. The grid has nearly 99,800 MW of generation capacity.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) operates the grid for more than 26 million customers representing about 90% of the state’s power load.

The assessment is based on average weather conditions at the time of the spring peaks for 2007-2021, and does not take in to account forecasts for the upcoming spring season.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) earlier this year adopted a new market design for the state’s electric grid in which power plants will be paid to be on standby. This is aimed at securing new generation capacity and increasing grid reliability.

During forecasted peak load in May, with typical unplanned outages and low wind and solar power, risk of an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) level 1 event is seen in a base and moderate risk scenario.

In an EEA 1 event, grid operators can call on all available power supplies, including power from other grids, if available, ERCOT said.

ERCOT said its modeling of an extreme case scenario showed that in May, a possible combination of unusually high unplanned outages and greater-than-expected peak demand could trigger an EEA 3 load shedding event.

The Texas electrical grid is still vulnerable to severe weather despite safeguards following a deadly February 2021 deep freeze that brought widespread power outages, the Dallas Federal Reserve said in January.

The Planning Reserve Margin, the forecasted capacity reserve that can cover higher-than-expected peak demand and lower-than-expected resource availability, in March-April is estimated at 78.1%, and at 50.2% for May. (Reporting by Harshit Verma and Deep K. Vakil in Bengaluru Editing by Matthew Lewis)