AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Texans brace for a freezing holiday weekend, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is confident your Christmas lights will stay on.
The leader of ERCOT expressed confidence that the power grid could handle the increased demand ahead of a “dangerous” cold snap.
Pablo Vegas, ERCOT’s new president and CEO, addressed the board of directors Tuesday morning about the impending cold blast. He said ERCOT is currently forecasting demand for power to reach its peak of 70,000 megawatts Friday morning when temperatures are their coldest across the state.
However, Vegas added, “With all the available resources performing as planned, we have forecasted to have nearly 90,000 megawatts of capacity online for this weekend’s event.”
“There’s a low probability scenario where there’s very high peak load and extreme outages of generation units and extremely low wind, that shows that there could be a shortfall,” Vegas said. “This is a very low probability scenario.”
Wind and solar are projected to account for 20-22,000 megawatts or about 22% of the total expected capacity.
Different weather conditions from 2021 storm
Chris Coleman, ERCOT’s lead meteorologist, also told the board Tuesday that the expected temperatures from Thursday through Sunday will be warmer than what they were during the deadly February 2021 storm. Plus, he said ERCOT expects there won’t be as much wintry precipitation this weekend.
On Friday, ERCOT said it would be closely monitoring the changing weather conditions as a series of cold fronts approach the state.
“ERCOT expects sufficient generation to meet forecasted demand and will continue to provide updates,” the energy provider said.
ERCOT said it issued an Operating Condition Notice that temperatures would meet its criteria of 25 degrees or lower in the Austin/San Antonio and the Dallas/Fort Worth areas between Thursday, Dec. 22 through Monday, Dec. 26.
According to a release, over the past 18 months, ERCOT has worked to implement reforms and increase grid reliability since the deadly winter storm in February 2021.
ERCOT expects to inspect more than half of their generating units this season to make sure they are meeting weatherization requirements, Vegas said. To date, ERCOT has inspected about 200 generation facilities out of the more than 650 they oversee.
The Texas Oil and Gas Association stressed the need to keep power flowing to natural gas infrastructure, citing policy changes since February 2021’s catastrophic winter storm that will make that more likely.
“If the power stays on to oil and natural gas production and transmission systems, some impact to production will likely occur but will not be to the severity experienced during Winter Storm Uri,” the trade association explained in a release.
It cites the Railroad Commission’s mandate that some crucial natural gas infrastructure is designated as a “critical load,” which could exempt them from power outages.