ERCOT explains why power outages nearly took hold of Texas as temperatures stay near 100 degrees

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ERCOT explains why power outages nearly took hold of Texas as temperatures stay near 100 degrees

Originally posted by: NEWS4SA

Thursday evening the Texas grid’s supply and demand were neck and neck, which left them very close to overlapping and potentially causing power outages.

It was the 11th day The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has asked people to conserve energy but this was the first time they’ve entered Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 Wednesday evening since the deadly winter storm.

RIOT, a Bitcoin company, announced Wednesday before the EEA2 occured that they have been given nearly $32,000,000 in Power and Demand Response Credits for August 2023. “August was a landmark month for Riot in showcasing the benefits of our unique power strategy,” said Jason Les, CEO of Riot.

“[Wednesday] night was the closest call that we’ve had since 2021,” Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering for Rice University Daniel Cohan said.

The major reason why is a frequency dip that happened between 7:00 and 8:00 pm on Wednesday.

ERCOT released the following statement about it:

Yesterday evening, ERCOT issued an Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 (EEA 2) and entered into emergency operations to maintain reliability of the grid. Power outages associated with the ERCOT power grid were not called for and were not necessary.

“The EEA 2 was issued to maintain critical system frequency due to low power reserves. Grid frequency is the balancing of the flow of electricity between 60.1 Hz and 59.9 Hz and must be maintained at that level at all times on the entire ERCOT grid. Last night, the frequency dipped to 59.77 Hz. Entering into EEA 2 allowed ERCOT access to additional power reserves needed to restore and maintain frequency. There has been speculation that the tripping of a thermal generating unit caused the frequency dip, which is incorrect.

“The low power reserve condition was due to a variety of factors that included continued high temperatures, very high demand (all-time September peak) relatively low wind output, end-of-day solar generation down ramp, and a transmission limitation in the south Texas region that restricted the flow of generation out of South Texas to the rest of the grid.

To address the transmission limitation, the ERCOT Board of Directors recently approved a project – called CPS Energy-San Antonio South Reliability Regional Planning Group Project – at its August meeting that will provide long-term system reliability improvements and address congestion in the South Texas region. The project still needs to be approved by the Public Utility Commission. In the meantime, ERCOT is working with transmission owners in the area to investigate solutions that may partially mitigate the impact of the transmission limitation.

CPS Energy CEO Rudy Garza released the following video Thursday night thanking customers.

“As this heatwave continues, it’s driving record amounts of demand for September,” Cohan said.

Those record demands are causing supply and demand to nearly overlap some days and grid conditions look less than ideal. There have already been more than 70 100+ plus degree days so far in 2023. State Climatologist John Nielsen Gammon weighs in on the weather we’ve experienced.

“The official temperature for San Antonio average over the summer was hottest on record at 88.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the temperatures are, the greater the demand,” Gammon said.

So, how are we keeping up with the demand? Cohan explains what he sees.

“We would have been having afternoon blackout after afternoon blackout, if not for the way that solar power has been able to carry the grid,” Cohan said.

“A megawatt hour actually produces enough energy for 200 homes. Solar energy and renewables in general, helps support the stability of the grid and so that’s something that individual homeowners can participate in,” Stephen Galaviz with Freedom Solar Power said.

The cost per megawatt hour is capped for ERCOT at $5,000 a megawatt hour.

Economist Ray Perryman explains how the cost is set.

“The price is actually set by the last unit, so to speak, the last unit that’s purchased. And so when you’re in the kind of weather we’re in right now, you move well beyond the renewable energy you move into natural gas and other sources of power. When you do that, the price does tend to go up,” Perryman said.

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