June 18, 2019 / 2:55 PM / 4 months ago

Summer heat could challenge power grids in Texas and California: NERC

(Reuters) - Texas and California could face electric reliability issues this summer because they may not have enough generation resources available to meet peak air conditioning demand, according to a report from the country’s reliability coordinator on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) command center in Taylor, Texas August 14, 2012. REUTERS/Julia Robinson

Grid operators in those states, however, have access to other resources to keep the lights on this summer, including power imports from different regions and conservation programs that reduce usage when needed.

The rest of the United States was expected to have enough generation to meet this summer’s projected peak power demand, the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC) said in its 2019 Summer Reliability Assessment.

NERC oversees regional electric reliability entities in the Lower 48 U.S. states, Canada and parts of Mexico.

In Texas, NERC said the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid in most of the state, expects to have less power available to meet peak demand this summer than last year due to load growth, delays in new sources of generation and the announced removal from service of the 470-megawatt (MW) Gibbons Creek coal-fired plant.

One megawatt can power about 1,000 U.S. homes on average but much fewer during the summer months when demand peaks.

ERCOT forecast power demand will reach a record 74,853 MW this summer, topping the current all-time high of 73,473 MW set on July 19, 2018.

If resource shortfalls occur, ERCOT said it expects to import additional power, if available, and issue energy emergency alerts that ask consumers to voluntarily reduce their electricity use.

In California, NERC said the high concentration of solar-powered generators could pose problems for other forms of generation, which must quickly ramp up or ramp down to ensure overall electric supply closely matches demand.

There are almost 12,000 MW of solar capacity in California, representing more than 15% of generation in the state.

In addition, NERC said extreme temperatures and wildfires could affect the California grid this summer.

During times of shortages, the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which operates the power grid in much of the state, said it likely will import more electricity from neighboring areas.

The California ISO said it expects to face less risk this summer relative to last summer in part because of greater-than-normal hydropower conditions in the region.

NERC, however, warned the California system will be at greater risk in the late summer when hydroelectric output typically falls and electricity demand remains high.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Bill Trott

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