The Status Of The Electric Grid In ERCOT
The Electric Reliability Council Of Texas
Sam R. Jones, P.E.
ERCOT – Retired
As a retiree of ERCOT this presentation represents my personal
thoughts and is not a presentation from ERCOT.
What Is ERCOT?
• The ERCOT Grid
– 75% of Texas land area
– 85% of Texas electric load
– Over 40,000 miles of high
voltage transmission lines
– 550+ electric generating units
– 68,379 MW peak demand set
August 3, 2011
– Physical assets are owned by
transmission providers and
– ERCOT staff performs
planning and system
operations 24/7
The Worst of Times/The Best of Times
ERCOT is a high electric load growth area and has been for many years
1996 – Wholesale electric competition began in ERCOT – Transmission was an immediate concern
2000 – Transmission improvements underway
Generation was becoming critical for peak loads
2003 – Generation OK due to new units coming on line
Transmission improvements continued but rapid expansion of wind generation in remote
areas caused serious transmission issues and the need for further expansion
2007 – Commercial Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) project initiated with support of the Texas
Legislature and Public Utility Commission to build significant new 345 kV lines to pre
identified zones to accommodate new generation projects of any type, but especially wind
• Mostly West Texas to the load centers
• Extended into the Panhandle outside of ERCOT to connect developing wind
• Approximately 2,000 miles of new 345 kV complete or under construction
2011 – Several thousand miles of new and upgraded transmission is in place in ERCOT
Generation is now becoming a critical issue for peak loads
Drought is becoming a serious concern due to need for water for cooling reservoirs
Generation Fuel Mix In ERCOT
Wind Statistics
• Approximately 10,000 MW of
installed wind generation
– Highest in the US
– Three times that of #2 Iowa
– If Texas were a separate country we
would be #6 in the world
• Over 18,000 MW of proposed
new wind capacity under study
• Wind generation instantaneous
7,917 MW – represents 24% of the
33,373 MW load at 4:13 pm on March
Taft, Texas – North of Corpus Christi
ERCOT May, 2011 Capacity, Demand And Reserve Report
Current Status Of The ERCOT Grid
Distribution – OK – up to the
individual providers
Transmission – Vastly better but
continuing need for improvement to
accommodate new projects and new
– The Rio Grand and Valley area is now
a priority due to growing load and
new wind projects
– New technology such as compressed
air storage generation is emerging
Generation – significant new firm
generation needed for the future
– Continue Solar Development
Energy conservation and efficiency
improvements are always needed
and welcome – “negawatts”
Continuing drought is a growing
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