HOUSTON - With scorching August temperatures fully projected on the near-term Texas horizon, the two leaders entrusted to keep the lights on and the A/C flowing predicted both record demand and enough electricity in the grid to more than meet the excess need.
"It's going to be tight for the rest of the summer. The heat is coming, but we are ready for it," said Peter Lake, Chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC).
"We expect to have a sufficient amount of generation to serve all Texans," said Brad Jones, President of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
With the collective pain and death of the disastrous February blackout still lingering, ERCOT in consultation with the PUC has increased the amount of power held in reserve by 56 percent from 5,000 megawatts this time last year to 8500 megawatts.
Lake believes the buffer will hold.
"The bottom line is we are doing business differently - margin of safety, an abundance of caution and for the first time ever ERCOT is taking into account real-time conditions in establishing the kind of reserves we need going into each and every day," he said.
As for the path forward in a Lone Star State certain to generate escalating demand for electrons from a growing population, Lake says the Texas electricity market must be re-designed "from scratch."
"Our focus will be on reliability and accountability," Lake said. "What does this look like in practice? We don't know yet."
Energy author Robert Bryce says Texas will remain on the cusp of crisis until the state reverses a two-decade rush to renewable, but unreliable wind and solar - a trend that has stifled construction of traditional "thermal" power generation like natural gas, nuclear and even coal.
"The only new capacity that's being added in ERCOT, it's all wind and solar," Bryce explained. "About 24,000 megawatts of solar and about 11,000 megawatts of wind and effectively that's going to be worth nothing in the wintertime."
"The legislature is going to have to intervene here and provide some kind of financial incentives to make sure you have power generators who can provide power when it is needed during crunch time," he added.
Lake acknowledged Texans have lost trust in ERCOT. It's a lack of faith he and Jones seek to remedy over time with reliable power delivery.