Cheer Up Charlies
"...The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (the agency that manages the state's electricity grid) has issued an emergency warning that Texas' power reserves are dipping perilously low as today's heat taxes air conditioning systems statewide. In the press release below, ERCOT asks Texans to back off on power usage until 7pm, and offers tips on how to do so:..."
"...“There’s a possibility that we may have to go to a level 2 emergency today which authorizes operators to drop the interruptible loads – large customers paid to be dropped in a level 2 emergency," said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's vice president of system planning and operations, in a press release. "Dropping the load resources provides extra capacity for the remaining customers...."
"..."If the capacity shortage is not relieved by the contract demand response, ERCOT escalates to a Power Emergency (Energy Emergency Alert Level 3) and will instruct utilities to reduce demand on the grid by conducting temporary outages at the local distribution level," reads a press release from ERCOT. "These controlled temporary interruptions of electrical service – or rotating outages – typically last 15-45 minutes before being rotated to a different neighborhood."..."
"...Staff for ERCOT just announced that peak demand is expected to break 67,700 MW today. When operating reserves reached below 2,300 MW, they initiated Energy Emergency Alert Level 1, meaning they can start bringing in power from other grids..."
"...UPDATE at 6.10pm: It seems the request for reduced consumption worked, because ERCOT just ended the power warning. In a statement, Austin Energy communications director Ed Clark said, "ERCOT indicates conditions are normal, but encourages conservation."..."
"...3 saw an all-time peak demand record of 68,294 megawatts. (One megawatt is enough to power about 200 air-conditioned homes during hot weather.) ERCOT did say some plants were offline – accounting for as much as 5,000 megawatts on Aug..."
"...However, this year West Texas congestion costs have lessened, and more importantly, it turned out Batch 6 pricing needn't ever have covered the costs of West Texas congestion at all. As Duncan explained in his July 24 memo to council announcing the proposed rate change: "The estimated congestion costs in the original pricing assumed that the Hackberry wind plant [near Abilene], which supplies Batch 6, would be assigned to ERCOT's 'West Zone' for congestion purposes and would therefore have higher congestion costs..."
"...The justification for the Texas "coal rush" is an estimate by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (which oversees 85% of Texas' deregulated energy markets) that electricity supplies will dip below the 12.5% mandated reserve margin by 2008 due to growing populations. The ERCOT estimate was cited both by Perry in a September Dallas Morning News op-ed, and repeatedly by the massive PR blitz of Dallas utility giant TXU, which is proposing 11 of the 19 plants..."
"...AE is implementing rotating blackouts per ERCOT protocols to meet our load shedding requirement. AE is turning off about 40 circuits at a time (we have about 350 circuits)..."
"...At about 5:40 am ERCOT enacted a system-wide emergency curtailment (EEA-Level 3) due to insufficient on-line generation to meet ERCOT statewide demand. The ERCOT system must shed 1,100 MW..."
"...In a July 24 memo to City Council, AE General Manager Roger Duncan explained that when setting the latest pricing, AE had overestimated the potential transmission congestion costs of bringing electricity to town. AE "assumed that the Hackberry wind plant, which supplies Batch 6, would be assigned to ERCOT's 'West Zone' ....."
"...Will Texas face rolling brownouts this year like last? The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is reckoning not – and the thanks may go to wind power. ERCOT manages the grid for most of the state and has to make big, elaborate calculations for how much power people will need and when. Under their newest sums, they reckon this summer that will top out at 63,794 megawatts, up 2.3% from last year's peak of 62,339 MW..."
"...At least that's what we were told last week by our own lovingly named Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc., the state's electric grid operator and the equivalent of the California agency that was so thoroughly swindled by the major power companies. Testifying before a Lege oversight committee, ERCOT's executives insisted that they have everything under control, and we needn't worry one little bit..."
"... The state's electricity grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, reported recently that supplies of reserve power, which ward off blackouts during extreme weather or major outages, will be sufficient until 2011 – adding two years to a May 2007 estimate. ERCOT credits a 255-megawatt natural-gas power plant and two large coal plants being built by Energy Future Holdings (formerly TXU), set to come online in 2009 and 2010, adding 2,291 megawatts of power..."
"...James Christopher Uranga was sentenced to seven years in prison for engaging in organized crime and for misapplication of fiduciary property and ordered to pay $505,000 in restitution; Kenneth Shoquist was sentenced to eight years in prison for engaging in organized crime and for bribery, and was ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution. Two other ERCOT defendants have yet to be sentenced, while a fifth is still awaiting trial..."
"...According to city officials, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas hasn't passed any message forward to say that rolling blackouts are a possibility today. In an early morning press release, the city notes that, in fact, ERCOT has said that "we have more power plants online today with capacity to serve the energy needs that were not available yesterday," according to the release...."
"...However, your bills still will rise by around 50 cents a month. Blame the Legislature; even though Austin could choose not to opt into retail electric competition (because we own the utility), Austin ratepayers still help fund the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) as it struggles to make competition work elsewhere..."
"...The majority of the energy generated by it is consumed by Texas cities; only a quarter of it comes from coal plants. "Even if [Fayette] goes away," said city Climate Program Manager Zach Baumer, "we're still going to be buying power from the ERCOT grid..."
"...However you stand on any of these issues, it seems not entirely a coincidence that both AE GM Larry Weis and COO Cheryl Mele have almost simultaneously decided to move on – Weis back home to Seattle City Light, and Mele to the state's ERCOT grid. I'm sure they have good personal reasons, but it can't have helped that the utility is persistently whipsawed between the city's affordability and renewable energy pressures (no longer quite as contradictory as they once were), all under the direct shadow of the PUC – which will again review next year's rate structure under the implicit standard: Why shouldn't we end Austin's public ownership and throw the city to the wolves of the private energy market?..."