'Tight Reserves' Expected in Texas Electricity Capacity This Summer

The people who run the Texas electric grid are warning that power generation resources are expected to be stretched to the limit this summer, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Pete Warnken of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, cited several factors for the predicted tight energy generation situation this summer.  They include a growing population, a strong economy which has more offices and factories running around the clock, a hotter than normal summer forecast, and a smaller number of coal fired power plants in operation as utilities switch to cleaner burning fuels.

"Given expected system conditions, we should be in good shape, but because our operating reserves are very tight, there certainly is the risk of having to rely on certain tools and procedures that we have available," he said.

Those 'tools and procedures' are likely to include requests to ease up on the use of high load appliances like dryers in the heat of the late afternoon, as a way to keep the peak load down.

But Warnken says ERCOT doesn't expect the tight operating reserves to lead to brown outs or other major situations.

"There is certainly the risk that we are going to have to call on certain procedures and tools to make sure that we keep that reserve margin high enough to maintain system reliability," he said.

But officials warn that an unexpected situation, like a major power plant that may have to be taken off line due to unexpected maintenance, could cause problems because the available reserves will be so tight this summer.

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