Tag Archives: ERCOT

Demand Response Service Moves Forward at ERCOT; so does Hogan B+

In the non-descript building in South Austin which houses the offices of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, there is a lot of discussion about proposed changes occurring in the ERCOT market. The way it works in ERCOT is every issue or change that someone wants is filed either by the market participant or ERCOT staff through a “Nodal Protocol Revision Request” or NPRR and goes through a working group or subcommittee. Assuming it moves through these groups it eventually goes to a voting committee called the Protocol Revision Subcommittee. From there it goes to the Technical Advisory Committee, and eventually to the Board of Directors of ERCOT.

Sierra Club is currently a member of ERCOT and yours — Cyrus Reed – is spending way too much time here, but this stuff is actually important.

There are four important NPRRs being discussed today at PRS.

The first — NPRR 564 — was approved by PRS today and allows a new 30-minute “demand response” service to serve as an “Emergency Response Service” for those times when ERCOT determines there is an emergency. Demand response is a service that lowers energy consumption during peak times of use. A 30-minute demand response service would be for resources that are capable of providing demand response within a 30 minute time-frame. Examples of the types of energy consumers who might be able to be paid by ERCOT for agreeing to turn down or off power during an emergency might include a large commercial operation with air conditioning or even a city’s wastewater treatment plant. Some examples of the kinds of sites that are interested in ERS 30 include higher education, irrigation & water treatment, and different kinds of manufacturing. Market participants believe that this new product could open the door for more demand response to participate not only in these emergency products but eventually in the energy market itself.

A second NPPR – 571 – Weather-Sensitive Loads — would add another DR product — more focused on residential air conditioning programs, that could be added to the ERS service if companies were able to aggregate these loads and create a program for ERCOT. This NPPR was not approved but sent to a separate committee for further work.

While getting new demand response programs into these emergency response services run by ERCOT, more important will be allowing loads to actually bid into the energy market by providing a “Negawatt.” ERCOT has already approved “Loads in SCED 1.0” which will be implemented next summer. This change will not allow loads to bid into to sell the negawatt but it will allow them to do a “bid to buy,” meaning they will offer to not consume power at a certain price. Market participants like Sierra Club are now working on a a Loads in SCED 2.0 that would allow much more active participation for demand response. Stay tuned.

A third NPPR — 560 — Floors and Caps for Energy Storage — was delayed a month to allow ERCOT to do a full analysis of the impact on its staff to implement the changes. The protocol revision would help set the rules for energy storage facilities like batteries. Batteries can provide short-term energy into the market as needed without producing pollution at the time they are dispatched. A good new resource in the ERCOT market. Two large-scale compressed air energy storage facilities are also being developed that could be on-line by 2016, providing energy largely derived from wind turbines.

Finally, after a decisions by the Public Utility Commission to create a Operating Reserve Demand Curve that would create an additional payment to those providing energy or capable of putting energy into the market (and ancillary services), the PRS discussed NPPR 568, which implements the ORDC. ORDC is sometimes referred to as Hogan B+ after the MIT professor who came up with the concept. The new scarcity pricing mechanism would be implemented by June of 2014, and is likely to increase energy prices during times of scarcity. However, voting on the NPPR 568 broke down over how to treat “loads” — those bidding into buy energy or turn off their consumption — as well as issues like the ERS programs. PRS was scheduled to retake up the issue on Friday.

Latest ERCOT Report Shows Wind Still Gaining Market Share

Slide1Numbers don’t lie. And the numbers released last week in the latest ERCOT — Electric Reliability Council of Texas – planning and operations report for August shows that wind production and wind development is increasing in Texas. First, Los Vientos wind production in Cameron County began operations, with all 202 MWs going to serve Austin Energy. With this addition, there are 10,507 MWs of wind power installed in ERCOT, which covers about 80% of Texas. Second, three additional wind projects — Windhorst in Archer County, Miami Wind in Gray county and Cameron County Wind in Cameron — signed interconnection agreements and there are now some 6,000 MWs of additional wind with signed interconnection agreements waiting to be built. Coal has only one project — the Texas Clean Energy Project — an Integrated Gasification project — west of Odessa for 240 MWs, while natural gas has some 6,522 MWs of projects with signed interconnection agreements. Solar has 150 MWs of projects with signed interconnection agreements, and another 1,080 MWs undergoing studies. Interestingly, a number of storage projects are also being developed, with a 40 MW batter project expected to be completed in Harris County later this year, with several large Compressed Air Energy Storage facilities planned in West Texas in the coming years.

In terms of actual production, ERCOT’s Operation Reports in August found that wind averaged at least 10% of total energy production between October of 2012 and June of 2013, and only dropped to single digits in July and August when winds tend to be lower. Even so, it indicates that wind is now even contributing to summer production in a much more significant level than would have been imagined just a few years ago. ERCOT expects wind to top 16,000 MWs by 2015.

ERCOT latest planning documents shows more gains for Wind, Solar

It ain’t the most exciting meeting in the world, but once a month, I attend the “Reliability and Operations Subcommittee” at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the Texas electric grid.


And once a month, our group – composed of generators, consumers, market players, retailers and wires companies among others — gets a monthly planning update known officially as the “System Planning Monthly Status Report.” Click here for access to the report itself.

And that report not only shows how much energy was used in ERCOT that month, it also shows how much from various types of resources, and more importantly, what resources — be they wind, solar, storage, gas, or coal — will be serving future loads. All of those proposed projects must go through financing, environmental permitting, and a complicated registration and study process with local wires companies known as an “Interconnection Agreement.” Even getting an approved interconnection agreement done is no guarantee a project will be built, because environmental permits, financing and market conditions still must exist for a project to move forward. Just ask the developers behind coal projects like Las Brisas and White Stallion where their projects are today. Fortunately, market conditions and a spirited citizen’s campaign, including the Sierra Club, helped doom those projects.

So what do the latest figures tell us? They suggest that there are some 13,000 MWs of proposed energy projects that have already signed an Interconnection Agreement or are in the process of getting an interconnection agreement (some 31,000). Of those, only two projects – the Summit Power Plant in West Texas and the  Sandy Creek project — are coal, and that represents only about 1,000 MWs of power, a relatively modest amount. In fact, there are slightly more MWs composed of solar projects in the process — at 1,264 MWs — than coal. Just last month, the White Camp Solar project in the panhandle became the first proposed solar plant in Texas of at least 100 MWs to officially sign an interconnection agreement with American Electric Power, which runs the electric grid in that area of the state. There is also almost 1,000 MWs of storage being looked at, and get this — some 22,000 MWs of wind power, much of which is located along the coast. The rest – about 19,000 MWs — is gas, much of intended only to meet peaking power needs.

The wind story is impressive and the ERCOT document further reports that if all of the wind projects with signed interconnection agreements actually go forward, wind production within ERCOT would go from about 10,500 MWs today to some 15,000 MWs in 2015. Currently, that wind is providing anywhere from a fraction of Texas’s electricity needs, to some 35% on certain days when the wind blows hard, particularly in the spring.

Fuel Type

Confidential Projects (MW)

Projects Under Full Study (MW)

Public Projects (MW)

Suspended Studies (MW)

Grand Total (MW)

Gas-AllOther                         449                         –              6,903
Gas-CombinedCycle                     6,506                         –            12,457
    Total Gas               2,615                   9,790                     6,955                         –            19,360
Nuclear                      –                          –                            –                         –                     –
Coal                      –                          –                     1,165                         –              1,165
Wind               2,748                 13,859                     5,062                         –            21,669
Solar                   395                       719                         150                         –              1,264
Biomass                      –                          –                            –                         –                     –
Storage                      –                       874                           40                         –                  914
Petroleum Coke                      –                          –                            –                         –                     –
Grand Total               5,758                 25,242                   13,372                         –            44,372

Source: ERCOT, Summary of Generation Interconnection Requests, June, 2013.

ERCOT announces more gains for Renewable Energy

ERCOT recently announced that renewable energy electricity sales in 2012 in the Texas market grew by some seven percent, with a gain of more than 15 percent in total capacity of those resources. A total of at least 13,000 MWs of renewable capacity was found in Texas in 2012. The announcement continues the growth of wind energy in Texas — which now equals about nine percent of total demand — but also signals the recent investment in solar energy, which more than quadrupled its use in Texas. 

The full announcement can be found here, but here are a couple of nice little charts showing total capacity and energy of renewables in Texas. 


Renewable energy reported

Fuel Type

2012 (MWh)

2011 (MWh)

Increase (%)









Landfill gas


















Capacity registered in Texas REC program*

Fuel Type

2012 (MW)*

2011 (MW)

2010 (MW)

2009 (MW)











Landfill gas




















*Does not include generation in service prior to September 1999. Totals differ due to rounding.

Strong Texas Wind Industry Bolsters Triple Bottom Line

Technicians work to install a wind turbine in West Texas. (Photo credit: New York Times)

Technicians work to install a wind turbine in West Texas. (Photo credit: New York Times)

Due to the economic difficulty of the past several years, much of our country has become enveloped by a sense of urgency to recover from recession. Obviously, the central focus of this urgency is to create jobs, and, as some might suggest, create them even at the expense of the environment. Indeed, economic recovery and environmental protection seem to be pitted against one another with astonishing frequency. However, an increasing amount of evidence suggests that we can accomplish one without compromising the other – and that we already are, to some extent. In fact, by simply looking within our own state, we see proof of a renewable energy industry – led by wind power generation – that is creating a wealth of economic opportunities for Texans.

Since the revision of the Texas Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) in 2005, which mandated an expansion of the state’s renewable energy capacity to 10,000 MW by 2025, there has been increased emphasis on fostering a strong renewable energy industry in Texas. This effort, aided by state programs and incentives, has enjoyed its share of success. In fact, Texas renewables blew the lid off of the aforementioned target in spectacular fashion – by 2010, wind energy capacity alone surpassed the 10,000 MW goal that was set for all renewables to achieve by 2025. Consequently, Texas has become the leading state for wind energy production and accounts for over 22% of the nation’s installed wind capacity. Accordingly, this large investment in Texas wind power has come to support many high-quality jobs for skilled workers. According to a report by the Governor’s office, wind energy-related employment in Texas accounted for 25,798 jobs as of the fourth quarter of 2011. Furthermore, the average annual wage was $61,908 – a figure that is well above the average income for Texans.

The prospect for continued growth in wind industry employment is promising, as well. According to a report by the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, the wind and solar energy industries are projected to add 6,000 jobs per year in Texas through 2020 (with a strong likelihood that a larger proportion of these will be created by wind energy). Such strong growth in renewable energy employment goes hand-in-hand with the increasing competitiveness of renewables in the Texas energy market. According to a recent study by ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas), wind and solar energy in Texas will enjoy much more significant growth over the next 20 years than they had previously expected – a conclusion that was reached after recalculating wind and solar competitiveness using more recent cost and energy output measures.

ERCOT's updated capacity forecast is located on the right side of the graph. Their previous capacity assumptions are on the left side. (Illustration credit: EDF)

ERCOT’s updated capacity forecast is located on the right side of the graph. Their previous capacity forecast is on the left side. (Illustration credit: EDF)

If ERCOT’s assumptions about the Texas wind industry are correct, investors and employees alike will be pleased, but so will rural Texans, who will continue to benefit from the economic development that wind farms bring to their communities. Landowners, including farmers and ranchers, are able to lease their properties to wind developers for an extra source of income. Property values in rural communities that are suited for wind development continue to rise. Local businesses in rural Texas have received new customers to serve in businessmen and turbine technicians alike. Furthermore, increased tax revenues for previously cash-strapped rural governments have provided some financial flexibility.

This trend bodes well for the Texas workforce, which will benefit from an increase in well-paying jobs. Moreover, meeting new demand through drought-resistant energy resources will provide tremendous benefits to the state in saved water resources and curbed toxic emissions (both of which help prevent environmental and economic losses), and will also help prevent pollution-related health problems for our citizens. As renewable energy projects grow in numbers, our state’s capacity to positively affect the triple bottom line (economy, environment, social responsibility) will only grow larger, which should make renewable energy development a policy priority moving forward.

Written by Diego Atencio

There’s no Drought About It: Lack of Rain in Texas Stirs Energy Concerns

In the society that we live in today, there are many figures and aspects that would just not be the same or function orderly without its dependent partner. Bonnie and Clyde, Batman and Robin, Brooks and Dunn, Abbott and Costello, and even PB& J are a few well-acclaimed ones that come to mind. Who would’ve ever thought that energy and water could be coupled together along with the other previous examples mentioned? Well the truth of the matter is that power plants require thousands of gallons of water a day to cool off their systems. And with the combination of the atrocious hot summers in Texas and the recent droughts occurring in the region, issues have arisen to the surface dealing with these situations and their consequences.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

Last Thursday, Texas Coalition for Water,Energy and Economic Security hosted a legislative briefing that took place at the capitol in Austin addressing energy and water issues. Guest speakers Dr. Gammon, Dr. King, Mark Armentrout, Cris Eugster and Kevin Tuerff all spoke about these concerns and issues as well as vocalized their solutions.

As the leadoff man, Dr. Gammon opened up the briefing by touching up on his forte climatology and how the local drought has taken a toll on Texas. Although Dr. Gammon offered some sign of relief when he claimed that we should not see the same drought of summer 2011 soon, he did add that there are still severe droughts ahead of us. Dr. King, Research Associate, Center for International Energy, stressed on how critical water is to power plants and that water rights in the region need to be more clear-cut. Dr. King shared his personal short-term goals, which were to have more education and conservation plans. He also proposed his long-term solution of implementing more renewable fuels such as wind and solar considering they don’t necessarily require cooling.

Mark Armentrout, former ERCOT board chairman, and Cris Eugster, Executive Vice-President of CPS Energy followed up on the briefing by adding their own separate opinions about the dilemma of energy and water.  Armentrout spoke about smart grid applications, which would allow people to see their electric cost data from their house. He also underlined the effects of rolling blackouts including the monetary side of it. According to Mr. Armentrout, the United States loses close to 80 billion dollars a year from rolling blackouts.

Einstein Bros Bagel store in Texas temporarily closed due to rolling blackouts in the area.

Being the Executive Vice-President of CPS energy, Cris Eugster offered confidence that increasing energy efficiency and implementing more renewable projects are well within hands reach. Eugster stated that CPS energy, a utility company in San Antonio, is the number one utility in Texas in terms of wind power and water utility efficiency in the state.  In fact, CPS energy recently signed on to a project that is expected to result in 400 megawatts of solar energy. Eugster also added that San Antonio uses about the same amount of energy as they did twenty years ago even with the dramatic population change. Kevin Terff, President of EnviroMedia, capped off the briefing by speaking about conservation education and behavior change. Mr. Terff primarily touched on the fact that people would conserve more if they understood the education and basic logistics behind it. According to a study by Terff, 3/4 of Texans didn’t know the natural source of water coming from their homes.

When bringing it all together, their combined consensus revolved around creating goals including increasing energy efficiency, pursuing and investing more into renewable energy as well as creating a stronger energy and water conscious community. Taking accountability in these goals will help put us in the right direction.

Related Links :Energy-Water Nexus in Texas, Trends and Policy Issues For The Nexus of Energy and Water, Social Impacts of Climate on Texas, Public Utility Commission Conservation Alerts, TexasEfficiency.com, CEE.org

– Jarred Garza, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern

Wind in Texas up to 15% of our energy use….

This is from a recent greenwire report — once the three Austin Energy contracts make it in, that total should be even higher next year.. read below

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Wind supplies record 15% of Texas power supply  (Wednesday, October 19, 2011)

Nathanial Gronewold, E&E reporter

Wind is providing more power than ever to Texas’ main power grid.

Wind farms generated a record 15.18 percent of the grid’s total power demand on the afternoon of Oct. 7, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said yesterday.

From more than 10,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, the council said, Texas’ turbines fed 7,400 MW of electricity to the grid at just past 3:06 p.m., when the total peak load was 49,000 MW.

The total wind generation beat the previous record set June 19, when turbine output totaled 7,355 MW, or 14.6 percent of total power load, ERCOT said.

The acceleration of new tower and turbine construction in the past year has seen wind’s share of Texas’ power supply grow from around 8 percent to 10 percent of total energy generating capacity, industry experts estimate.

The rise in wind energy is tied to a new focus on building turbines along the Gulf of Mexico, rather than inland where most of the state’s wind farms are found (ClimateWire, Aug. 23, 2011).

ERCOT spokeswoman Dottie Roark said grid operators noticed last month that coastal projects were delivering between 50 and 70 percent of the state’s total wind power supply on some days. This despite the fact that coastal projects constitute 13 percent of Texas’ installed wind capacity, she said.

“The operators in our control room noticed that [coastal wind] was actually picking up around the time that our load was picking up,” Roark said.

Boosters of coastal projects say building Gulf of Mexico turbines makes sense since the wind blows stronger there during the daytime, when supplies are needed most, rather than at night when most inland generating areas see their highest wind speeds.

Results from coastal projects are also fueling a push for offshore wind development as Texas races to become the first state in the nation to generate power from wind towers installed in the ocean.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) celebrated Texas’ new wind power generation milestone.

“Wind generation offsets the use of expensive fossil fuels, is pollution-free and uses virtually no water, unlike other sources of electricity,” said AWEA transmission policy manager Michael Goggin in a release. “This is yet another case showing that large amounts of wind energy can be integrated into existing utility systems reliably.”