New report shows tightening electricity reserve margins

Written By: Jen Neville
December 4, 2018

ERCOT

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ERCOT has long enjoyed the reputation of being an extremely liquid market, but the long-term view needed to strategically shape portfolios and profit there has become decidedly cloudy. The closure of coal plants suggests resource adequacy issues will emerge, but power pricing from the summer of 2018 did not reach levels to trigger new builds of conventional generation. At the same time, an enormous wave of solar is on the horizon. The growing movement to co-locate storage with wind and solar PV is changing perceptions of what is necessary to assure reliability. Add in the impacts of growing transmission constraints and a burgeoning credit crisis in the retail market, the one clear thing is that companies must explore how these fundamental changes will drive development and risk mitigation strategies to ensure profitability.
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The Electric Reliability Council of Texas recently released its December Capacity, Demand and Reserves Report, which includes planning reserve margins for the next five years. The planning reserve margin for summer 2019 is forecasted to be 8.1% based on resource updates provided to ERCOT from generation developers.

This is 2.9% lower than what was initially reported in the May CDR. The report shows reserves are expected to increase to 10.7% in 2020 and 12.2% in 2021.

"ERCOT’s ability to meet Texans’ growing power needs through the record-setting summer of 2018 was supported by the actions taken by power suppliers and consumers, and the policymakers who are committed to the success of the ERCOT market," stated ERCOT CEO Bill Magness. "We anticipate the same type of focus on system performance as we head into another year with tight reserves."

The anticipated decrease in power reserves for summer 2019 is primarily driven by a higher summer peak load forecast and delays and cancellations of planned generation projects. Significant oil and gas development in far West Texas continues to drive increasing electricity demand in Texas.

Dec 2018 CDR Graphic

The annual growth rate in peak demand in West Texas is forecasted to be around 8 percent through 2023, whereas ERCOT’s annual system-wide load growth rate is 2 percent during the same time. The peak load forecast for summer 2019 is expected to be 74,853 MW, which is 651 MW higher than what was reported in the May CDR.

ERCOT’s current system-wide peak demand record is 73,473 MW, set on July 19, 2018 between 4 and 5 p.m. Since the May 2018 CDR report, three planned gas-fired projects totaling 1,763 MW and five wind projects totaling 1,069 MW have been canceled. Another 2,485 MW of gas, wind and solar projects have been delayed.

Resources totaling 1,714 MW have been approved by ERCOT for commercial operations since the May CDR, and a total of 7,463 MW of installed capacity became eligible for inclusion in the CDR. ERCOT’s next Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy will be released in March 2019, and the mid-year CDR report will be released in May 2019.

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