AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Six new generating units going online by August should help meet power needs this summer with sufficient supplies also expected for the fall, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas announced Thursday.
ERCOT, the operator of the electric distribution grid for most of Texas, said consumers could still be asked to conserve during extremely hot weather or in case of outages, despite the additional generating facilities to help avoid blackouts.
"The outlook improves significantly by August, when we typically experience the highest system peaks of the year," said Warren Lasher, director of ERCOT system planning. "We may need to ask consumers to reduce electric use if we experience extremely hot weather or widespread unit outages during the early summer months."
Texans previously have been asked to conserve power and warned of rolling blackouts during peak use, most recently in January when freezing temperatures increased demand significantly across the state.
Peak demand this summer is expected to reach about 68,000 megawatts, ERCOT estimated. ERCOT's record peak usage was 68,305 megawatts on Aug. 3, 2011.
One megawatt provides enough power to serve about 200 homes during peak demand conditions, typically between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on a hot summer day.
The new generating units expected online by August are the Ferguson Replacement in Llano County, Panda Sherman in Grayson County, Panda Temple I in Bell County and Deer Park Energy Center in Harris County. The other two natural-gas facilities are the Rentech Project in Harris County and the Forney Power Upgrade in Kaufman County, said Robbie Searcy, an ERCOT spokeswoman.
Nearly 10 percent of the energy produced and used within ERCOT during 2013 came from wind operations, Searcy said.
"We are seeing continual growth in wind power installation in the ERCOT region," she said. "In fact, by 2017 we expect to see about 8,600 megawatts more of wind power capacity added in the region. Texas continues to be the leader in wind power generation for the entire country."
West Texas attracted another planned wind facility Wednesday with the announcement of a planned 118-turbine facility, the Mesquite Creek Wind Farm, near Lamesa. The 200-megawatt wind farm was announced by Mars, Incorporated, in partnership with Sumitomo Corporation of Americas.