HOUSTON, April 10 The top U.S. power grid
watchdog says he is satisfied that Texas officials are working
on concerns about shrinking electricity reserves and the greater
risk of a blackout or rolling outages when power use soars in
Unlike other areas of the United States, electric
consumption in Texas continues to grow, but falling wholesale
prices and tight financial markets have forced a number of
developers to cancel or delay plans to build new power plants.
Gerry Cauley, president of the North American Electric
Reliability Corp (NERC), told an industry conference on
Wednesday that his agency was monitoring regulatory changes
intended to increase reserves and proposals to curb power use in
times of high demand.
"It's not clear that any one or all of those will directly
or effectively deal with the problem," Cauley said in a speech
at the Gulf Coast Power Association conference in Houston.
Cauley said he recently met with Donna Nelson, chairman of
the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Trip Doggett,
president of grid agency Electric Reliability Council of Texas
"We went over all the things that are taking place in
Texas." Cauley said. "It's a good list of activities to try to
address the issue."
ERCOT has projected that the state's electric power reserve
margin, a cushion against blackouts, will be 13.2 percent this
summer, below the agency's minimum target of 13.75 percent.
The reserve margin will shrink each year through 2022,
increasing the chance of a power outage from the agency's target
of just once in 10 years.
ERCOT will update its forecast in May.
Cauley said NERC has no authority to order ERCOT to make any
specific changes to the market or to order new generation.
ERCOT is expected to respond to NERC in writing by the end
Power generators in the state include Luminant, a unit of
Energy Future Holdings, which is owned by Kohlberg Kravis
Roberts & Co LLP and several private equity firms; NRG
Energy ; Calpine Corp ; NextEra Energy Inc
and Exelon Corp.