State of the ERCOT Grid Winter 2022-2023

Available Generation and Projected Demand of The ERCOT Grid: Winter 2022-2023

NERC provides a detailed breakdown of generation resources and demand in Texas, and how they could be affected under extreme conditions.

Description NERC Estimates
Winter 2022-2023 Anticipated Resources 86.1 GW
Typical Maintenance Outages -1.2 GW
Typical Forced Outages -8.9 GW
Resource Derating Under Extreme Conditions -11.5 GW
Operational Mitigations +1.6 GW
Winter 2022-2023 Net Internal Demand 63.1 GW
Extreme Winter Peak Demand 80.8 GW
Expected Operating Reserve Requirement 1.0 GW

As you can see in the table above, ERCOT has a reserve margin of 36.4% (23 GW) under normal conditions: 86.1 GW available to cover a demand of 63.1 GW.

Under typical maintenance outages (-1.2 GW) and forced outages (-8.9 GW), there is still 76 GW available to cover a 63.1 GW demand. The reserve margin decreases to 20.4% (12.9 GW) in this case.

Extreme conditions similar to the February 2021 winter storm would derate the available capacity by 11.5 GW, leaving only 64.5 GW available. Extended cold weather could increase demand to 80.8 GW, with an operating reserve requirement of 1.0 GW. This would create a shortfall of -21.4% (17.3 GW), and ERCOT would be forced to use rolling blackouts. However, this scenario only occurs during another extreme weather event of the same magnitude and intensity as Winter Storm Uri.

The following table compares ERCOT’s current reserve margin from one year ago (winter 2021-2022). Although Texas had a higher margin last year, the value remains well above the NERC reference value of 13.75%.

Power Demand, Generation Resources & Reserve Margins Winter 2021-2022 Winter 2022-2023
Total Internal Demand 62,001 MW 66,436 MW
Demand Response Available -2,598 MW -3,302 MW
Net Internal Demand 59,403 MW 63,134 MW
Anticipated Generation Resources 84,318 MW 86,142 MW
Anticipated Reserve Margin 41.9% 36.4%

The ERCOT Grid and New Weatherization Standards 

The ERCOT reserve margin decreased slightly from 41.9% to 36.4% (-5.5%), but the Texas PUCT has been taking several steps to improve cold weather resilience. The following are some of the measures being implemented:

  • New weatherization standards for power generators and natural gas facilities.
  • ERCOT has contracted an additional 2,900 MW of firm resources for winter.
  • Gas-fired generators are required to store backup fuel for 48 hours in case of an extended supply interruption.
  • ERCOT conducted 324 weather preparedness inspections in 2021, in the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri.

NERC concludes that the risk of another energy emergency resulting from extreme weather in the ERCOT region has been reduced, but not eliminated completely. NERC has determined a low probability of energy emergency events, and they have forecast that the peak load hour will be 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM.

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