ERCOT releases report on status of Texas electric system

Oct. 7, 2002 — Transmission congestion costs to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) consumers totaled more than $250 million between July 31, 2001, and May 31, 2002, according to a summary report of the Texas electric system.

The report is part of ERCOT’s requirement by of the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA) section 39.155(b), as amended by Senate Bill 7 in 1999.

This report documents the process of major changes and additions to the ERCOT transmission grid, and how ERCOT’s planning role ensures continuity in the development of the transmission grid and consistency in the evaluation of grid adequacy. The report also describes the need for new transmission facilities and the benefits of each project, as well as the consequences of project delays.

The report also details the nature of transmission constraints and the projects being considered by ERCOT to relieve those constraints. It serves as a starting point for developing proposed projects for approval via the ERCOT Transmission Planning Process, and it may be useful in the preparation of regulatory and other reports that require transmission grid planning information.

Highlights include a brief background on ERCOT and its activities; overview of ERCOT load (demand) versus generation (supply); overview of transmission capacity (e.g. transport and delivery of electricity) and transmission constraints; and an overview of new generation capacity.

The planning process is necessarily forward-looking; plans for modifications to the transmission system must reflect expectations about where people will live and work and how much electricity they will use. It must also reflect expectations about where utilities and independent power generation companies will build new power plants.

ERCOT has had a role in transmission planning since 1996 and first prepared a report on the transmission system in 1998. During the late 1990’s and since then, ERCOT has coordinated the transmission planning and construction required to connect a large number of new power plants to the transmission system and permit them to move their power to areas where customers need power.

It has also faced the challenge of significant growth in a number of areas of the state (such as the Austin area and Dallas-Fort Worth) and the need to coordinate the planning of the facilities to deliver power to new homes and businesses in these areas.

ERCOT has also identified transmission bottlenecks and projects that would alleviate the bottlenecks. For example, the 1998 report identified a major transmission constraint between the Houston and Dallas areas and a project that would reduce the magnitude of this constraint. A new transmission line was put into service in May 2001, based on the project identified by ERCOT.

In prior reports ERCOT has also identified transmission issues related to moving power from West Texas into the metropolitan areas in East and Central Texas, reliability issues in the lower Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi area, and concerns about importing power into the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Transmission projects to relieve these constraints are under way, and, in some cases, the initial phases of the projects have been completed and are in service.

The full 113-page report is available by , or by visiting ERCOT’s web site at http://www.ercot.com.

Electrical supply and demand in Texas

Since Texas opened its electricity market to competition in January 2002, a major part of a successful restructuring operation has been transmission lines – how many there are and if there’s enough transmission capacity to meet changing requirements. That’s where ERCOT comes in, managing the power grid for the state of Texas. In fact, 85 percent of the state’s consumer, business and industrial power customers rely on this power grid to receive electricity.

The ERCOT service area is about 200,000 square miles and includes counties ranging from a population of 67 (Loving County in West Texas) to 3 million (Harris County in Southeast Texas). It represents a bulk electric system located entirely in Texas. In terms of demand, it’s clear that ERCOT is a summer-peaking system because of Texas’ notoriously hot weather and high air conditioning usage.

ERCOT oversees the operation of approximately 75,000 MW of installed generations and more than 37,000 miles of transmission lines. Mild weather caused ERCOT’s 2001 peak demand to drop to 55,201 MW, a four percent decrease from the record peak of 57,606 MW recorded in the summer of 2000.

The minimum demand has increased from 17,820 MW in 1996 to 19,520 MW in 2001, a compound growth rate of 1.8 percent. The maximum demand has increased by a compound growth rate of 2.7 percent, and energy usage has increased by a compound growth rate of 2.5 percent.

In terms of projected and actual energy usage, ERCOT experienced a 2.8 percent annual growth rate between 1991 and 2001, and a 2.5 percent growth rate between 1996 and 2001. Energy usage has increased steadily since 1992 except for 1999 and 2001. These drops were due to weather that was more normal in 1999 and 2001 after extremely hot weather in 1998 and 2000.

Transmission capacity/transmission constraints

About 6,500 MW of new generation capacity has been proposed as an addition to the ERCOT system between 2002 and 2005.

Two types of constraints are defined in the ERCOT market: Commercially Significant Constraints (CSCs) limit the flow of energy from one of the four major zones in the ERCOT Region into another, and Local Constraints (LCs) limit the flow of energy in areas within a zone in ERCOT.

The following are Commercially Significant Constraints in ERCOT for 2003:
“- West Texas to North Texas (Primary corridor is Morgan Creek to Abilene to Graham to Parker)
“- South Texas to North Texas (Primary corridor is Marion to Zorn to Austrop to Sandow to Temple to Waco to Venus)
“- South Texas to Houston (Primary corridor is Corpus Christi to South Texas Project to Houston)

The following are the most significant Local Constraints in ERCOT for 2003:
“- Dallas/Fort Worth
“- Corpus Christi
“- Laredo
“- Rio Grande Valley
“- West Texas (McCamey, San Angelo, Morgan East, and Wind Farms)

Transmission congestion costs to ERCOT consumers totaled more than $250 million between July 31, 2001, and May 31, 2002. These costs could have been even greater due to factors not included in the overall report, such as increased risk of service interruptions that could result from transmission constraints and the use of plants that are less efficient and cause more pollution to relieve the congestion.

(see Figure 1 above for the total cost of congestion by cause and type of service)

New generation capacity

Since 1997, ERCOT has received more than 170 system evaluation requests from across the state from entities that want to build new generation capacity in ERCOT. Load growth in the state, revisions to the PUCT transmission rules, and market deregulation are attracting merchant plant developers to the Texas market.

Proposed new generation may help relieve the current transmission constraints in ERCOT, depending on the proposed location, but it may also worsen the constraints because the existing transmission system cannot fully accommodate the proposed new plants.

Transmission planning is based on dealing with uncertainty. Factors that give rise to uncertainty include whether proposed generating plants will actually be built and which power plants will reduce their output or be taken out of service because of competition from newer, more efficient generating plants.

These and the operating uncertainties mean that planning for any new transmission additions should provide for a robust transmission system that can deal with a variety of future conditions.

The recent announcements regarding construction of new generation capacity (power plants) and the retirement of older, less efficient plants demonstrate the ERCOT market is working effectively.

(See figure 2 below for new proposed generation capacity for the ERCOT system)


However, competition also changes the landscape:
“- New participants enter and exit the market, or consolidate their operations – thus changing the players and contractual supply arrangements.
“- Changes in generation patterns – including the introduction of large, remote wind development – places new challenges on the existing transmission grid.
“- Retirement of older plants near metropolitan areas because of economics or environmental restrictions will require a careful assessment of the reliability needs and transmission alternatives.

ERCOT, along with transmission service providers, is planning necessary transmission to maintain reliable service and to address transmission bottlenecks. The following major projects identified in past ERCOT reports have been completed:
“- Limestone-Watermill 345-kV Double-Circuit Line — Increase transfer capability into North Texas from Houston
“- Monticello-Farmersville 345-kV Line — Increase transfer capability into Dallas/Ft. Worth from Northeast Texas
“- Lon Hill-Rio Hondo and Lon Hill-Edinburgh 345-kV Lines Series Capacitor Compensation — Increase transfer capability to/from Rio Grande Valley and improve reliability
“- Military Highway STATCOM — Improve reliability in the Rio Grande Valley
“- Laredo STATCOM — Improve reliability in the Laredo area
“- San Miguel-Pawnee 345-kV Line and Establish Pawnee 345-kV Station — Increase transfer capability to/from South Texas/Corpus Christi/Victoria area and improve reliability in the Corpus Christi/Victoria area
“- Centerville Switch-McCree Switch 345-kV Line — Increase transfer capability across Northeast Dallas/Garland area and improve reliability
“- White Point 345-kV Switching Station and 138-kV Upgrades — Increase transfer capability to/from Corpus Christi area and improve reliability
“- Cedar Bayou-King-North Belt-TH Wharton 345-kV Corridor Upgrades — Increase transfer capability across East and North Houston and out of Houston
“- Various 138-kV and 69-kV System Additions/Upgrades, including autotransformers — Provide energy delivery from bulk transmission system to consumers

ERCOT has also supported and recommended the following major projects, currently under development by transmission service providers, which will help further mitigate constraints:
“- Morgan Creek-Twin Buttes-Red Creek-Comanche Switch 345-kV Line — Planned to prevent outage in West Texas, to improve reliability in San Angelo, and to deliver renewable energy out of West Texas
“- Graham-Jacksboro 345-kV Line — Planned to prevent outage in West Texas and to transport renewable energy out of West Texas
“- Pawnee-Coleto Creek 345-kV Line — Planned to provide energy deliveries to/from South Texas including Corpus Christi/Victoria area and to improve reliability in the Pawnee/Corpus Christi/Victoria area
“- Farmersville-Valley Junction-Anna Switch 345-kV Line — Planned to prevent outage in Northeast Texas, to provide for transport of Northeast Texas generation into the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, to provide for energy delivery across North Dallas, and to improve reliability
“- Paris-Anna 345-kV Line — Planned to prevent outage in Northeast Texas, to provide for energy delivery of Northeast Texas generation into the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, and to improve reliability
“- Venus-Liggett 345-kV Line — Planned to provide energy delivery into Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex
“- Edinburg-Bates-McAllen 345-kV Line — Planned to provide energy delivery into south McAllen area and to reduce local congestion
“- McAllen-Brownsville-La Palma 345-kV Line — Planned to provide energy delivery to east side of Rio Grande Valley and to reduce local congestion
“- Various 138-kV and 69-kV System Additions/Upgrades including Autotransformers — Planned to provide energy delivery from bulk transmission system to consumers

ERCOT is also leading three regional planning groups to determine additional actions needed to serve load and continue to resolve transmission constraints. Major projects under development include:
“- Jacksboro-West Denton 345-kV Line — Needed to provide energy delivery into Dallas/Ft. Worth from the west and to maintain reliability
“- Jacksboro-Willow Creek-Parker 345-kV Line Upgrade — Needed to provide energy delivery into Dallas/Ft. Worth from the west
“- West Denton-NW Carrollton 345-kV Second Circuit — Needed to transport energy into Dallas/Ft. Worth and to maintain reliability
“- Watermill-Cedar Hill 345-kV Second Circuit — Needed to provide energy delivery into Dallas/Ft. Worth
“- Anna Switch-Collin-NW Carrollton 345-kV Line Upgrade — Needed to provide energy delivery into Dallas/Ft. Worth
“- Salem-Bryan/College Station-TNP One 345-kV Line and Establish New 345/138-kV Station — Needed to provide energy delivery to/from the south and maintain reliability in Bryan/College Station area
“- Clear Springs-Zorn-Harris Branch-Gabriel-Salado 345-kV Line — Needed to provide energy delivery to/from the south and to serve load in the Austin/Pflugerville/Hutto/Georgetown area
“- Cuero-Holman 345-kV Line and Establish Cuero 345-kV Switch Station — Needed to provide energy delivery to/from the south
“- Coleto Creek-Cuero 345-kV Line — Needed to provide energy delivery to/from the south
“- San Miguel-Laredo 345-kV Line — Needed to provide energy delivery to/from the south and to maintain reliability in Laredo area
“- Laredo-Bates-Edinburg 345-kV Line — Needed to provide energy delivery to/from the south and to maintain reliability in Laredo/Rio Grande Valley area
“- Red Creek-Comanche Switch 345-kV Second Circuit — Needed to provide energy delivery from West Texas
“- Twin Buttes-McCamey 345-kV Line and 345/138-kV Autotransformers — Needed to deliver renewable energy out of the McCamey area
“- Comanche Switch-Killeen Switch 345-kV Line — Needed to provide energy delivery from west and to enhance reliability of service to Killeen
“- Whitney-Concorde 345-kV Line — Needed to provide energy delivery from south into Dallas/Ft. Worth
“- Twin Oak-Lake Creek 345-kV Second Circuit — Needed to provide energy delivery to/from south
“- Various 138-kV and 69-kV System Additions/Upgrades including Autotransformers — Needed status to provide energy delivery from bulk transmission system to consumers

Conclusion

Briefly stated, Texas’ power delivery infrastructure is in excellent condition in comparison to other states. It also means, however, that more transmission lines are needed to effectively move power around the state to meet the demand. Most of these additional transmission facilities would be needed whether or not Texas had chosen to restructure its market.

The good news is that Texas has plenty of power to meet the state’s needs. For example, there are just three power grids in the U.S.: the Western Interconnect, the Eastern Interconnect and Texas. Because Texas has its own grid, it is not dependent on imported energy.

Some states, including California, must import power from hydroelectric plants in Oregon, Nevada and elsewhere. It’s also easier to build needed transmission facilities in Texas. The projects listed above represent ERCOT’s continuing efforts to increase the likelihood that power will flow easily around the state.

Electric use is continuing to grow, reflecting the transformation of our economy to a high-technology information base that relies on electricity. Electricity, though, is not a commodity that can be easily stored, and our transmission infrastructure is at the heart of our economic well-being.

An open, coordinated transmission planning process that incorporates transmission upgrades to relieve constraints, unwavering reliability requirements, and the interconnection of new supply (including environmentally-friendly units) will be of paramount importance to the future of Texas, the report concluded.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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