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ERCOT report reveals possible rotating power outage scenarios this fall

Under normal conditions, ERCOT said the grid would hold up, but in extreme risk scenarios, there would not be enough power to go around this fall.

HOUSTON — After 10 power demand records and nearly a dozen calls to conserve electricity this summer, there's a risk of rotating outages this fall, according to a newly released report from ERCOT, the state’s grid operator.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas released its latest seasonal assessment of resource adequacy, or SARA report, on Tuesday. It states that the ERCOT region -- under normal conditions -- is expected to have sufficient electricity supply to serve peak demand during the fall season. ERCOT anticipates a peak demand of 69.6 gigawatts and 99.7 GW of electricity capacity.

Despite cooler temperatures, the so-called “shoulder months” of the fall and spring seasons are when gas and coal-fired power plants historically are offline the most. Much like an old automobile, the antiquated thermal generating plants need routine maintenance, and shoulder months provide the best time of year to accomplish that.

The SARA report is a set of risk scenarios that include a combination of normal to extreme peak demand conditions, normal to extreme unplanned outages and normal to below-normal wind generation. One of the three elevated risk scenarios, low renewable output, projects a 2.4 GW power shortage which could result in the need for rotating outages. Two of the three extreme risk scenarios, which include a combination of high or extreme demand and unplanned outages and low wind, show a power deficit between 2.2 GW and 9.1 GW. Those scenarios also result in a high risk of rotating outages.

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