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Holiday Cold Front Brings New Wind Power Record to ERCOT

Announced by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas on January 2, 2013:

The high winds that sent a chill through Texas last week also contributed to a new wind power record, with wind generation providing 8,638 MW of power at 3:11 p.m. on Dec. 25.

This output represented nearly 26 percent of system load in ERCOT at the time. This new record is 117 MW higher than the previous 8,521 MW record set on Nov. 10.

More than 6,600 MW of the new record included wind power from West Texas wind farms, followed by more than 1,600 MW from wind farms along the Texas Coast. One MW is enough electricity to power about 200 homes during periods when electric use is highest and about 500 homes during periods of typical consumption.

“Unlike traditional power plants, wind power output can vary dramatically over the course of a single day, and even more so over time,” said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT’s vice president of Grid Operations and System Planning. “With new tools and experience, our operators have learned how to harness every megawatt of power they can when the wind is blowing at high levels like this.”

ERCOT has more than 10,000 MW of wind power capacity, with more than 20,000 MW of additional wind generation under review. The completion of high-voltage transmission projects in Competitive Renewable Energy Zones by the end of 2013 will improve ERCOT’s ability to move wind power from West Texas to the metropolitan areas where demand on the grid is highest.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to 23 million Texas customers — representing 85 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects 40,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 550 generation units. ERCOT also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for 6.7 million premises in competitive choice areas. ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. ERCOT’s members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities (transmission and distribution providers), and municipal-owned electric utilities.


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