A. Lee Graham
Hot summer afternoons don’t always mean soaring electricity use, according to a newly released report by the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas.
The agency’s 10-year outlook, released Friday, cites electricity use during the hottest hours of Texas summer afternoons as increasing less quickly than previously indicated.
“Although population and the economy continue to grow in the ERCOT region, the relationship between economic growth and peak electric demand has changed in the past several years,” said Warren Lasher, ERCOT’s system planning director in a news release.
“We believe recent improvements to our load forecasting methodology are providing a more realistic view of the future electric demand we need to be prepared to serve,” Lasher said.
The slower growth is due, in part, to what industry experts consider improved energy efficiency measures by consumers. Those measures include changing from incandescent light bulbs to light-emitting diode (LED) and compact fluorescent (CFL) varieties.
According to a 2013 report from the Energy Information Administration, the average household energy use has been declining since the early 1990s.
Anticipating effects on future peak demand, ERCOT forecasters have developed a new load-forecasting method that focuses on growth in customer premises, rather than general economic and employment growth figures. That premise forecast includes specific economic drivers for various types of customers, including residential, commercial and industrial consumers. Weather also is a significant driver in systemwide peak demand, according to ERCOT, with the updated forecast based on 12-year average weather patterns.
With the revised load forecast and updated generation figures, the agency’s newest capacity, demand and reserves report indicates the planning reserve margin as of June 1, 2014, will be 13 percent. Those reserves represent the generation resources expected to exceed peak demand, based on normal weather patterns.
The new report provides a 10-year planning reserve forecast based on normal weather patterns.
From a resource standpoint, ERCOT said it has been analyzing the operational characteristics of wind generation to determine whether the electric grid can rely on more power from commercial wind farms during peak demand than the 8.7 percent of installed capacity that is included in the current CDR. While that analysis continues, the capacities for coastal and non-coastal wind generation resources are identified separately in the new CDR because coastal wind farms typically provide more generation during late summer afternoons, when demand for electricity is highest.
A seasonal assessment of resource adequacy, released prior to each season, reports on ERCOT’s more specific weather-related expectations for the upcoming season, including how very high demand or generation outage extremes would affect operating reserves during peak demand periods. ERCOT plans to release its final version of that report for spring 2014 and a preliminary assessment for summer 2014 on March 5.