AUSTIN (KXAN) - Texas's capacity to generate enough electricity to meet peak demand is improving, but the reserve margin remains to thin for comfort, the state's main grid operator said Monday.
"The projected reserve margin for summer 2013 has dropped slightly since May, but we are seeing healthier reserve margins in future years," said Trip Dogget, the head of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
"Although peak demand is expected to grow less quickly than previous economic predictions indicated, we should continue to encourage new generation and develop more demand response options to reduce our electric use during periods of highest use — the hottest hours of the hottest days of summer."
The reliability council, a quasi-governmental agency commonly referred to as ERCOT, operates about 85 percent of the state's power grid. It released a report forecasting that the state will have about 74,600 megawatts of power to serve anticipated peak electric use of nearly 66,000 megawatts next summer.
That will give the state a reserve margin of 13.2 percent in the coming summer, slightly below ERCOT's target of 13.75 percent. By 2014, projected reserves drop to 10.9 percent, the report said.
Without additional generation capacity, ERCOT said the margin will shrink to less than 3 percent by 2022.
"While several entities have announced plans for new generation that is likely to come online in future years, those projects have not yet acquired the level of certainty required to be included in this report," said Warren Lasher, director of system planning for ERCOT. "The long-term outlook will change over time as new projects move forward."
A megawatt is enough power to serve about 200 Texas homes during the highest-demand period, which typically occurs between 3 and 7 p.m. during the hottest days of summer.
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