For the second day in a row, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas says it’s expecting tight grid conditions again. However, it is not asking for energy conservation at this time.
"We may see tight grid conditions due to the large number of generators out of service for planned and forced maintenance combined with low wind and solar output forecasted for today [Wednesday, April 14]," said ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson in a news release issued this afternoon. "Additionally, we’re seeing some risk in the Rio Grande Valley due to the forced outage of a generating unit in the area."
Approximately 33,000 MW of generation is currently out of service for maintenance, according to the release.
Tight conditions are not always a direct result of high demand on the electric system. During the spring and fall seasons, electric demand (load) may be relatively low, but there are typically a large number of generators that are out of service for scheduled maintenance. As a result, there is less overall generation capacity available to serve electricity demand, ERCOT officials said.
Additionally, the weather tends to fluctuate more during the spring and fall, resulting in a significant amount of variability on the electric system due to changing demand and renewable output.
Generating units are large machines that require periodic maintenance in order to sustain their performance during the summer. Typically, these outages occur during the spring months when demand tends to be lower, in order to ensure units are available during the summer months when demand is expected to be higher. The ERCOT market is also designed to financially incentivize generators to be available during summer peak demand periods, the release states.
"Just like maintaining your car, generators must be maintained to keep them running smoothly," said Rickerson in the release. "ERCOT must balance these necessary outages with serving load during the spring and fall months, especially given increased weather volatility."
Yesterday, Tuesday, April 13, ERCOT asked people to conserve energy when demand for energy on the grid was near 49,000 megawatts and the available supply to the grid was about 50,000 megawatts.
Texas Tribune reported the 5 p.m. Tuesday demand was much less than the peak demand it neared during February, about 72,000 megawatts, when energy use surpassed record levels as Texans tried to stay warm during a severe winter storm.