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09/20/2012

Texas electricity supply looking better, ERCOT says

The state's biggest power grid says in a filing with the Public Utility Commission of Texas that its outlook for the supply of electricity in 2013 and 2014 could be better than its last official estimate in May. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, which covers about 75 percent of the state, figures it should be able to draw on about 77,000 to 78,000 megawatts of capacity those two years after including currently mothballed generation and accounting for announced projects that aren't far enough along to be included in its official estimate. In all, the additions are enough to raise ERCOT's reserve margin -- its expected electricity supply over anticipated demand -- above ERCOT's goal of 13.75 percent, if just barely in 2014. Previously the reserve margin was expected to dip below the goal in 2014.

In its letter to the PUC, ERCOT said it used generation companies' own estimates of how likely mothballed plants would be to return to service, coming up with roughly 1,900 megawatts of added supply. ERCOT then added announced projects -- including new solar power by San Antonio's municipal utility, 400 megawatts by Calpine and four other projects -- which together amount to 1,011 megawatts in 2014. It all gives ERCOT an unofficial

reserve margin of 17.6 percent in 2013 and 14 percent in 2014. "It should be noted that permitting, availability of water contracts, and other challenges may negatively impact certain resources' ability to come on-line in a given year," the letter says.

-- Jim Fuquay

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