News Release

January 18, 2012

ERCOT NEWS: January Board Meeting Highlights


Board endorses $275 million transmission project in Brownsville area

Jan. 18, 2012, AUSTIN – The Board of Directors for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state grid operator and manager of the wholesale electric market, endorsed a $275 million project to add more than 118 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the Brownsville area at January’s monthly board meeting. 

The Cross Valley transmission project , proposed by Sharyland Utilities and Brownsville Public Utilities Board, is needed to address load growth in the Valley area, ERCOT staff said.   The option recommended by ERCOT staff and the stakeholders’ Technical Advisory Committee, and endorsed by the board, includes:

  • La Palma-Palo Alto 138-kilovolt (kV) line, about 12 miles on new right-of-way;
  • North Edinburgh-Loma Alta kV line, about 106.5 miles on new right-of-way, routed in proximity to the South McAllen substation;
  • A new 345 kV bus at the Loma Alta station with one 345/138 kV autotransformer. 

The board’s resolution deemed the North Edinburgh-Loma Alta 345 kV line as “critical to reliability of the ERCOT system,” which will help expedite the process when it goes to the Public Utility Commission for final approval. 

New leadership elected; five protocol changes approved

The board elected Craven Crowell as chair and Judy Walsh as vice chair (see news release here) and approved a resolution to recognize the former chair, Laura Doll, who resigned to pursue an out-of-state career opportunity. 

Board action included approval of four Nodal Protocol Revision Requests (NPRRs) and one System Change Request (SCR):

  • NPRR 413 – Oklaunion Exemption Calculation Verification
  • NPRR 414 – Unaccounted for Energy Calculation Clarifications
  • NPRR 415  – Inadvertent Interchange and Inadvertent Energy Clarification
  • NPRR 417 – Transmission and Distribution Service Provider Submittal of Consumption and Demand Values for Advanced Metering System ESI IDs
  • SCR 764  – Public Access to Select Market Information System Dashboards. 

Summer reserves slightly above target after generation change

ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett reported that a federal court’s stay of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule on Dec. 30 resulted in Luminant’s decision not to mothball the Monticello coal plant.  Luminant had previously announced plans to suspend services at the plant’s two units, totaling 1,130 megawatts (MW), to comply with the rule which was slated for implementation Jan. 1.  

After adding the 1,130 MW back into the generation mix expected for this summer, the reserve margin increased from 12.11 percent to 13.86 percent – slightly above the minimum reserve margin target of 13.75 percent, Doggett said. 

“We still anticipate a tight summer if the weather is as extreme as last summer,” Doggett said.  

Texas experienced its hottest summer on record in 2011 causing record-setting electricity demand in five consecutive months, from May to September.  ERCOT initiated emergency procedures due to low operating reserves on seven days but did not have to implement rotating outages to reduce the load, although interruptible loads – resources paid to be dropped in emergency conditions – were used on two occasions during the summer. 

Doggett listed the status of several initiatives which ERCOT staff, stakeholders and the Public Utility Commission are reviewing to ensure resource adequacy in the short term and long term.   

Several rule changes that affect the offer floors for non-spinning and responsive reserves were implemented Jan. 5, Doggett said.  Additional market changes are being reviewed in the stakeholder committees and by the Public Utility Commission, including a proposed change to expand the emergency interruptible load service.  

Also, ERCOT staff, in conjunction with market participants, is reviewing a concept for a distributed load aggregation demand response program that would allow smaller customers, including residential, to participate through a third party that has the technology in place to aggregate load.  The board report included a preliminary estimate of 30-50 megawatts of load reduction, based on information from vendors, but the number is expected to grow by summer, Doggett said. 

Drought workshop planned for Feb. 27

Doggett said the state climatologist’s October report indicated that a large portion of Texas will endure a second summer of drought, but the La Niña which drives the drought is forecast to be less intense than last year.  

ERCOT is planning a workshop for generation and transmission entities on Feb. 27 to share best practices related to managing drought conditions. 

Doggett also reported that ERCOT finished the year with a $19.4 million favorable budget variance, primarily due to $10 million favorable variance from the system administration fee which is tied to electricity usage. 

Preliminary findings of gas curtailment study indicate manageable risk

Kent Saathoff, vice president of grid operations and system planning, reported on preliminary findings of a gas curtailment risk study:

  • Highest risk is due to freezing weather;
  • Pipeline disruptions were not found to be a significant risk factor leading to curtailment of gas supply to ERCOT power generators;
  • While risk may increase in the future, it appears to be manageable near term from an ERCOT system reliability standpoint.

A more complete report on the study will be presented at the board’s February meeting. 

Saathoff also noted that ERCOT’s CPS1 score – a measure of how well ERCOT’s operators are controlling grid frequency – hit a record high in December, despite the fact that scores are typically lower during low-load months.  Preliminary indications are that the frequency control improvement is due to several recent market rule changes.  The December score was 162; ERCOT’s average score in 2011 was 148.92 percent. 


 The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 21. 


Archived broadcasts of ERCOT board meetings
Jan. 17 Board of Directors Meeting Agenda, Documents


The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers -- representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and 650+ generation units. It also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for nearly 8 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. Its members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities, transmission and distribution providers and municipally owned electric utilities.