HOUSTON — Texans were told to prepare for a "new reality" Wednesday after energy experts announced demand for power this summer will likely outweigh the supply.
“Data shows, for the first time, that the peak demand for electricity this summer will exceed the amount we can generate from on-demand, dispatchable power," said Peter Lake, chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
On-demand, dispatchable power refers to coal plants, nuclear energy, and natural gas. These forms of power can be controlled by people and have an “on/off switch."
Non-dispatchable, or renewable energy, includes solar and wind energy, which can’t be controlled by people.
Lake said when it comes to operations, the ERCOT grid is working better than ever and is ready for the heat, but the most pressing issue is the population growth and there not being enough energy sources.
Lake said from 2008 to 2022, Texas only added 1.5% in dispatchable power, however, the population grew by 24%. Renewable sources continue to grow, adding about 4,400 combined megawatts of wind and solar energy since last summer; however, these kinds of energy sources aren’t a guarantee as they rely on wind and sun.
In ERCOT’s Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy report (SARA), it estimated this summer’s demand to be 6,000 megawatts higher than last year, smashing the record. So, on the hottest days when there’s not enough dispatchable power, Texans will be relying on renewable energy to keep the lights on.
This summer, especially on a hot day when the sun sets and it's not windy, Texans may be asked to conserve. This scenario unfolded 12 times last summer.
“The urgency to move forward, with meaningful electric market reforms that will incentivize the development of dispensable generation, remains extremely high,” said Pablo Vegas, President, and CEO, ERCOT.