May 01, 2014

Is #ERCOT run by climate change denialists?

ERCOT, for those who don't know, is the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ultimately responsible for making sure the state doesn't have blackouts in summer (or occasionally during a hard cold snap in winter).

Well, the good folks at ERCOT, who have already said "don't worry" about possible fallout from the EFH/Luminant bankruptcy, now say, don't worry about this summer, saying the overseers expect about average temperatures.

Really? I've emailed asking whose forecasts they're using, because, per the nice big one at left from our friendly National Weather Service, ERCOT is full of shite.

Here's ERCOT:
New power plants coming online by August and a milder summer forecast for parts of Texas has officials at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas predicting that the state’s electricity reserves will be adequate for the hot months ahead. ...
“The outlook improves significantly by August, when we typically experience the highest system peaks of the year,” said Warren Lasher, ERCOT’s director of System Planning. “We may need to ask consumers to reduce electric use if we experience extremely hot weather or widespread unit outages during the early summer months.”
The top map is for June-August. As you can see, there's a 40-percent chance of above normal temperatures.

The map immediately at left is for August-October. It still has the populous portion of the state with a 33 percent chance of above-normal temperature, enough to still fall into an official shaded area. Maybe it improves moderately, but not significantly. (That said, the May-July one is worse than the June-August one, even.)

So, are you going to believe an oversight agency that's been wrong in the past, wrong enough that in early 2011, Texas had to import power from Mexico in winter, or are you going to believe the National Weather Service?

ERCOT asks us to believe it, and an in-house meteorologist instead. No thanks. Especially not since the NWS forecast maps were available two weeks ago. Besides, are we talking about today's normal, or what was normal/average 70 years ago, pre-climate change, and with less measurement history?

That also ignores other issues. With no more than average rain expected, plus a good chance of above-average temperatures, Texas drought is going to continue. That means more water usage for other things — water that's usually pumped from one place to another by electricity.

Things may not be disastrous, but I'd be less sanguine than ERCOT, were I ERCOT.

If not run by climate change denialists, at least, it appears to be run by PR doctors.

And, if ERCOT isn't run by denialists, TCEQ sure is, as Jim Mitchell notes.

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