The ERCOT region’s electricity use increased 3.5 percent in 2010, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, grid operator and manager of the electric market for most of Texas, reported in the 2010 demand and energy report.
Net energy for load was 319,097 gigawatt-hours (GWh) for the year, compared to 308,278 GWh in 2009 and 312,401 GWh in 2008. February had the highest energy increase compared to 2009 with 19.3 percent, followed by September at 9.8 percent.
Wind energy represented 7.8 percent of the total energy, compared to 6.2 percent in 2009 and 4.9 percent in 2008. April and November had the highest wind usage at 12.1 percent each, followed by March with 11.6 percent.
ERCOT recorded a new wind output record of 7,227 megawatts (MW) at 7:16 am on Dec. 11, 2010, representing 25.8 percent of the load at the time. The new peak beat the 2009 record by almost 1,000 MW. ERCOT has 9,528 MW of installed wind generation – the highest in the United States and the fifth highest in the world.
Coal plants provided 39.5 percent of the year’s energy, which was 2.9 percent higher than in 2009. Natural gas provided 38.2 percent of the year’s energy, down 3.9 percent from 2009.
The ERCOT region had several record-breaking days in 2010 – for both winter and summer peaks. Operators recorded an hourly-average demand of 65,776 MW on Aug. 23, to set a new summer peak record , exceeding the previous year’s all-time peak demand (63,400 MW on July 13, 2009) by 2376 MW.
The ERCOT region also set a new winter peak record on Jan. 8 when hourly demand averaged 55,878 MW – almost 5,000 MW over the previous record of 50,404 MW (Jan. 16, 2007).
One megawatt is roughly enough electricity to power 500 average homes under normal conditions in Texas, or about 200 homes during hot weather when air conditioners are running for longer periods of time.