ERCOT Panhandle Phase 2 Projects

9.20.16

On September 20, at the Regional Planning Group (RGP), Sharyland announced the findings from its recent panhandle study, based on which Sharyland will be submitting panhandle phase 2* project for ERCOT to review and approve.  
Sharyland recommended 175 MVA Synchronous Condenser (SC) to be added at WinMill, as a second phase after the second circuit project, with an estimated cost of $240 M which Sharyland’s report verifies to meet the ERCOT economic criteria.  This project is expected to increase the system strength export limit from 4004 MW to 4833 MW (prior to applying the 90% operational limit).  This is a great improvement for the area, however this still falls short of the full 5,269 MW currently committed in the panhandle (signed IA meeting section 6.9), and includes provisions to limited generation at WindMill to 1103 MW from the full 1255 MW committed to that station.  Sharyland however indicated that they will be doing additional study to look at system needs for up to 6000 MW in the Panhandle.  

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ERCOT Monthly Operational Overview May 2016

5.16.16

April Summary
Operations:
•    The peak demand of 51,036 MW on April 25th was more than the day-ahead mid-term forecast peak of 49,102 MW of the same operating period. In addition, it was greater than the April 2015 actual peak demand of 45,242 MW. The instantaneous peak load on April 25th was 51,175 MW.
•    Day-ahead load forecast error for April was 2.50%
•    ERCOT issued nine notifications
–    Eight advisories due to Physically Responsive Capability being less than 3,000 MW
–    One OCN due to a forecasted large wind down-ramp event.

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ERCOT May 2016 Drought Risk Prediction Report

This analysis identifies potential drought-related impacts to generation availability in the region based on a current snapshot of system conditions, and is not intended to be an exact prediction of future generator outages. ERCOT uses the results of this analysis as a signal to initiate coordination with owners of potentially affected generation capacity. The current predictions indicate that no generation is expected to become at risk within the next six months.

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Market forces leading ERCOT to cleaner electric grid

Natural gas, wind, solar can fuel all Texas’s new power for 20 years
Market forces will likely be the driving force leading Texas’s primary electric grid during the next 20 years to a cleaner power future, propelled by continued affordable and abundant natural gas, a new report released this morning shows.
“Over the next 20 years, due to the free market alone, ERCOT can expect to see a cleaner grid that relies on Texas-produced natural gas, wind and utility-scale PV solar power at little additional cost to consumers,” concludes the fourth grid-forecasting study conducted by The Brattle Group for the Texas Clean Energy Coalition.
A few caveats are in order, though. The report did not take into account reliability concerns that could arise from the timing of coal-fired power plant retirements (such as too many at the same time) as coal’s contribution shrinks from an estimated 34 percent now to only six percent in 2035. 
The report also did not analyze what impact rooftop solar installations might have, nor did it account for costs of additional high voltage transmission lines that might be needed to carry large amounts of utility-scale solar to population centers.
However “Exploring Natural Gas and Renewables in ERCOT Part IV: The Future of Clean Energy in ERCOT,” found that new power generation in Texas over the next 20 years could be completely provided by natural gas and renewable energy at little increased cost.
Among the biggest surprises: If market forces are allowed to work, CO2 emissions in Texas will drop even lower than requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency’s now-delayed Clean Power Plan, researchers found. The transition to natural gas, mainly combined cycle units, and renewables would cut carbon emissions on average 28 percent, or an average of 61 million tons less carbon in Texas air each year, the report found.
The impact of low natural gas prices – forecast in the report to rise no higher than $4 per MMBTU (on million British Thermal Unit) by 2035 – on the transition to clean power in Texas cannot be overstated. Fuels produced in Texas would rise no more than inflation, resulting in $41 per megawatt hour (MWh), similar to prices in 2014, the report noted.
Low natural gas prices, combined with the impact of the EPA’s requirements for coal plant retrofits under a rule cutting mercury and air toxins emissions, is resulting in fuel-switching from coal to natural gas, according to Ira Shavel, an energy economist and lead author of The Brattle team study.
“It was rather surprising how much we saw,” Shavel told Texas Energy Report. “It’s natural gas prices. I think that’s been a lot of the story.”
Indeed, natural gas prices are the largest driver of how electricity will be generated in ERCOT during the next two decades, while the impact of other market forces and currently proposed federal regulations are expected to be minimal.
Other key findings include:
--- 60 percent of coal-fired plants will be retired by the early 2020s.
--- 85 percent of power with low natural gas prices will come from natural gas, solar and wind, with combined cycle natural gas plants making up the lion’s share of natural gas generation.
--- Major additions of new generation will come from wind and solar – 9 GW for wind and 13 GW from solar.
--- Enhanced energy efficiency could reduce electricity demand by an extra five percent, helping to keep emissions and electric prices down.
The report notes that Texas is well positioned to lead the nation’s transition to clean energy as the first state to adopt (and far exceed) renewable portfolio standards, the deregulation of the Texas energy market and the state’s investment in CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zone) lines to carry wind and solar power from West Texas and the Panhandle to the more populated cities east of I-35. 
The study’s authors stressed their forecasts depend on allowing market forces to work “unimpeded” by political concerns, such as propping up existing coal-fired power plants beyond their natural ability to compete with natural gas, wind and solar power. 

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