As ERCOT predicts summer demand, experts say diversity of energy sources is key

On Friday, ERCOT reported that six generator sets tripped offline.

AUSTIN, Texas – Monday, the Texas Electric Reliability Board (ERCOT) has announced its predictive summer models for electricity supply and demand. ERCOT said there will be enough electricity during the summer months.

experts with Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and Austin Energy say that the diversity of the sources of electricity production will be essential.

“It’s not just about having a power plant available to produce 24/7, 365 [days a year]”, said Dr. Melissa Lott, director of research at Columbia’s Center for Global Energy Policy. “It’s about having a mix of technologies that keeps our electricity bills low.

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Lott, who lives in Austin, added that every power producer has tradeoffs.

“Each of our power plant types can go offline unexpectedly, especially if not properly maintained,” Lott said. “If we’re going to have hotter summers more consistently, how can we rely on a system that can handle these things and do them at the same time, keeping electricity prices low?”

Lott described solar power very well at this time of year due to the longer, sunnier days, while wind power operates at below 100% capacity because there aren’t as many windy at this time of year, especially during the day. Its main trade-off for fossil fuels and natural gas comes at the expense of environmental concerns.

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“I have great confidence in our abilities – the technology is there,” said Sara Norris, who leads Austin Energy’s customer renewable solutions programs. “It’s about being smarter in how we implement it, deploy the technology.”

According to Norris, at any time on any given day, Austin’s electricity production comes from a variety of resources.

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“We’re not putting all our eggs in one basket in terms of doubling our natural gas consumption or betting on wind and solar,” Norris said. “We are trying to diversify.

Norris and Lott say using different power generators helps keep prices low as demand for electricity changes.

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