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ERCOT – What About Reliability?

Don’t believe fossil-funded dark money groups promoting doomsday to prop up dirty energy donors. They are unreliable. 

Dark money groups (secretly, but most likely funded by out-of -state fossil fuel companies), are making claims that ERCOT is on a path to a “reliability crisis.” They want to create a panic to justify propping up dirtier, more expensive, imported fuels and they claim in lobbying papers, on social media, and at their anti-wind/NIMBY rallies, that increased use of renewable energy (wind, specifically) is placing the ERCOT grid at risk.

They threaten that Texas will soon face rolling blackouts, among other things but their reliability claims are devoid of data of fact. In fact, electric power industry experts state that adding renewable energy to the power grid does not change how the process of balancing electricity supply and demand works. Studies from the U.S. Department of Energy (and direct ERCOT market experience) show that the power grid can accommodate large volumes of renewable energy without sacrificing reliability and without the need for back-up generation. The truth is that ERCOT’s use of ancillary services has fallen, not risen, as more cleaner cheaper renewable energy is added to the grid.

Prices are falling, benefiting consumers; the air is cleaner, benefitting all Texans; and we’re keeping more of our energy dollars here in Texas, invested in our own resources and benefiting our own communities.

The following statements regarding Texas renewable energy and grid reliability were made in 2018 by ERCOT electricity experts, including the organization that runs the Texas power grid:

  • Renewables growth “has not negatively impacted system reliability.”
  • “New analytical and monitoring tools help ERCOT Operations manage [our] changing resource mix while maintaining system reliability and market efficiency.” – ERCOT
  • “Growth in renewable generation continues to be managed well.” – The Texas Reliability Entity
  • “Ancillary services costs were $0.87 per MWh in 2017, down from $1.03 per MWh in 2016 because of continued relatively low natural gas prices and lower ancillary service requirements.” – ERCOT Independent Market Monitor
  • “The market is functioning properly.” – ERCOT Independent Market Monitor
  • Wind was “outperforming its own forecast…the grid just isn’t as stressed because there’s just so much wind.” – Joshua Rhodes, Ph.D., University of Texas Energy Institute, commenting on wind’s performance during the 2018 Texas heat wave
  • “Electricity reserve margins remain steady through 2022…reserves through 2022 [are] in the range of 10.9% to 12.3%.” – ERCOT
  • “The competitive electric marketplace in Texas continues to support a healthy number of retail electric providers and a wide variety of products to customers, competitive prices in wholesale markets, reliable service, and a diverse mix of generation resources.”
  • Public Utility Commission of Texas, Scope of Competition Report, 2019

A transition to a cleaner Texas power grid is underway. Natural gas, wind, and solar will lead. This transition is good for all Texas electricity consumers, the state’s economy, and the environment. Ignore the claims by groups with secret funders. Their claims regarding grid reliability are – quite simply – unreliable.