On March 18, wind output reached 7,917 megawatts — more than 500 megawatts above last year's record
By Laylan Copelin
Published March 27, 2012
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The state's primary electricity grid is experiencing record amounts of electricity generated by wind this month.
March winds are only part of the story.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas this month initiated a new computer program that fine-tunes how much wind-generated power can be safely transmitted.
"In the past, we've had some slack built into some of our transmission limits because those limits had to be set well in advance," said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's director of grid operations. "The new tool runs an analysis on real-time conditions every 30 minutes, so it gives us a more fine-tuned analysis."
ERCOT initiated the new analysis March 6. The next day, a new wind record was established, and 11 days later, the record was broken.
At the time, wind accounted for almost 24 percent of the electricity on the grid, which serves 80 percent of the state's population, including Central Texas.
Texas Observer | By Forrest Wilder (March 8, 2012) To Avoid Blackouts, Texas Regulators Plan to Artificially Boost Profits for Utilities – Ten years into the experiment with electric deregulation in Texas, state regulators have reached an interesting impasse. They've abdicated almost all their responsibilities as public stewards to the marketplace but face enormous pressure not to allow rolling blackouts to darken the grid this summer. With Texas' fully deregulated power market, the Public Utility Commission has few tools to bring new power generation online.
It appears the the PUC's solution is to artificially boost prices, almost assuredly driving citizens' electric bills higher (and padding some corporate bottom lines). The Austin American-Statesman reported on a meeting of the PUC commissioners, three Perry appointees, yesterday:
The Texas Public Utility Commission on Wednesday signaled a willingness to address looming electricity shortages by allowing wholesale prices to hit new highs during peak demands for power . . . Utility commission Chair Donna Nelson suggested raising the cap to $4,500 (from $3,000 per megawatt-hour) by July 1 and phasing in an increase to $7,500 over several years, depending on a study by outside consultants. That study is to be completed by June 1 . . . "I want to send the market a strong signal so we can get the investment we need," Nelson said.