ERCOT Grid Modernization and Distributed Generation

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December 14, 2021

The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has warned in recent years that updates are needed for the Texas grid and its generation companies. In February of 2021 and earlier in 2011, the grid suffered major disruptions due to freezing weather. So, what can be done to stave off a total disastrous shutdown that puts Texas into the stone age?

It has been mentioned that the 200+ billion cubic feet of natural gas is being wasted in what is known as flaring in and around the Permian Basin. However, that still won’t address the natural gas freezing at wellheads that we experienced in the historic freeze in February of 2021. With natural gas being relied upon for about 48% of fuel used for generation in Texas, what other fuels can Texas rely on?

Coal represents about 20%, wind represents 20%, nuclear is around 11%, Solar comes in at 1.1% and the rest are almost too small to measure (https://comptroller.texas.gov). So, how does Texas survive when nearly half of the fuel for energy is blocked, and the balance is not enough to power the largest producer and consumers of energy in the US?

A simple answer may already be in use. Distributed Generation. Put simply, distributed generation is when your facility has on-site generation and can utilize the power independently from the grid. It can include energy from a generator or renewable energy resources and can use the backup generator to produce power for your business, school, or government entity. In addition, it can connect to the grid so that energy can be delivered to and from the grid. This can increase the reliability of the grid when supply is too low to meet demand. In addition, a company can be paid to sell its excess energy to the grid under the right circumstances.

A microgrid is a perfect solution to making the ERCOT grid reliable during its modernization period and other states are using them successfully today. A microgrid is generally one or more types of distributed energy to power communities, campuses, complexes, etc. If companies have access to generators through a microgrid system, they would be able to use their own resources during weather events (hot or cold) to support themselves. If your organization has more than enough energy, it would be able to maintain power quality while earning revenue through selling that energy to the grid.

Another way companies can help ERCOT while grid modernization happens, is to get involved with Demand Response. In this scenario, a company that can afford to shut down a portion of its energy consumption during a weather event would benefit by being paid by the grid operator. In addition, the grid would have your company run tests to ensure there is enough energy for the grid to benefit during times of grid distress.

There are many other strategies for operation’s resilience, while increasing reliability, and revenue for your organization. If you are interested in learning more, contact Acclaim Energy a leading provider of energy management services for nearly 20 years.

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