By Eileen O'Grady
Jan 7 Below-freezing temperatures across Texas
pushed power use to a new winter record Tuesday, but the state
avoided a repeat of Monday's power emergency as generating
Electric demand reached 57,277 megawatts in the hour ended
at 8 a.m. CST (1400 GMT) on Tuesday, slightly above the 57,265
MW record set in February 2011 during a prolonged cold spell,
according to the website for the Electric Reliability Council of
Texas (ERCOT), the state's primary grid.
Sufficient generation and higher wind output from West Texas
wind farms boosted the state's electric supply Tuesday compared
to Monday when the grid operator declared an emergency as power
plants shut unexpectedly, reducing supply.
Real-time power prices Tuesday morning across ERCOT
indicated that power supplies were sufficient to meet the high
demand. Prices ranged from $25 to $600 per megawatt-hour as
demand peaked, down from Monday morning when prices hit the
$5,000 price cap for about one hour.
ERCOT was able to avert rolling outages Monday by importing
power and implementing demand response programs to curb rising
The grid operator ended its call for power conservation
"The system appears to be in good shape today; we have
sufficient generation online to meet demand," said ERCOT
spokeswoman Robbie Searcy. "We appreciate the fact that people
did conserve energy and helped us get through some tight periods
this week and we appreciate all the work the generators have
done to make their facilities available."
Monday's power emergency lasted less than three hours, but
was reminiscent of February 2011 when ERCOT was forced to
implement rolling outages for several hours after dozens of
power plants were knocked offline or were unable to start due to
frigid weather and strong winds across the state.
One of the state's largest power plants, Luminant's Comanche
Peak 1 nuclear reactor, is operating at 72 percent of capacity
for a second day.
Monday's events are sure to complicate the debate about the
need for more generation in Texas, which has divided the Public
Utility Commission and raised concern among state lawmakers.
Electric supplies on Monday tightened after more than 3,700
megawatts of generation was forced to shut overnight Sunday and
early Monday, Dan Woodfin, ERCOT's director of system
operations, told reporters. The forced outages came on top of
nearly 10,000 MW of generation that was already shut for the
season or for planned maintenance, he said.
Woodfin said about 1,800 MW of the 3,700 MW of the forced
outages were weather-related, including two large power plants
in north central Texas that he declined to name.
In a notice posted Tuesday detailing the previous day's
supply problem, ERCOT said one power plant totaling 474 MW shut
unexpectedly at about midnight.
At 6:04 a.m. Monday as power demand was rising, another
power plant totaling 464 MW shut, followed by a third plant of
892 MW which shut at 6:31 a.m.
At 8:11, another "sudden loss of generation" occurred
totaling 901 MW, dropping the grid's frequency 59.855 Hz, ERCOT
Power demand has surpassed the grid agency's winter forecast
of less than 50,000 MW under normal weather conditions.
One megawatt can power about 500 homes in mild weather and
about 200 homes during high-demand summer months, ERCOT said.
Power producers in Texas include Luminant, a unit of
privately held Energy Future Holdings, NRG Energy
, Calpine Corp, NextEra Energy and Exelon