Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

For Texas, a Choice: Conservation or Rolling Blackouts

Mose Buchele / StateImpact

Trip Doggett is the President of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas

Yana Skorobogatov contributed reporting to this article.

If the state encounters another scorching hot summer like we had last year, the choice will be between rolling blackouts or ramped-up conservation, said Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT ) President Tripp Doggett at a State House hearing today.

“If we have the same summer as last summer, we had to have conservation [last summer] and everyone made a tremendous difference during those peaks on the hot summer days of last August. We’d have to have that, plus some [more], to survive this summer without rotating outages,” Doggett testified before the House Committee on State Affairs.

The state grid is expected to have a reserve margin of electricity slightly higher than 13.75 percent this year. That’s the safety cushion of electric capacity that exceeds forecast demand. And that cushion will be thinner this year. Last year, the margin was 17 percent and Texas still came dangerously close to rolling blackouts on two occasions.

Part of the problem the committee is looking into is how to encourage more power plants to be built. That’s difficult in a deregulated maket. When questioned whether state agencies had looked into encouraging public-private partnerships to build more plants Donna Nelson, Chair of the Texas’s Public Utility Commission said “my perception is that our market is premised on private investment… so no we haven’t.”


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