Accident at Sandy Creek power plant could affect Texas this summer

POSTED: Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 4:09pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 9:54am

RIESEL -- People in the town of Riesel see the power plant everyday but few know about an accident that left a generation unit delayed.

Some people we spoke with who wouldn't go on camera say they were told a boiler overheated and others say they've been left in the dark.

No one knows exactly what happened and regulators aren't saying much about it either.

"Since it's a competitive market, we are prohibited from releasing information about the specific status of units. It's considered confidential because it could hurt their stance in the market," said Dottie Roark, a spokeswoman for ERCOT.

So how big of a player is the Sandy Creek power plant in the states electric supply?

Let's just say when a 925 megawatt unit is delayed like the one at Sandy Creek, it makes a pretty significant impact.

"Whenever we are tight on our reserves like, uh, we could be this summer if we've got high temperatures again like last summer, not having that 900 or 1,000 megawatts makes almost a percent, one percent difference in our reserve," said Roark.

That's one percent out of a total of 13.75 percent of reserved electrical power used for emergencies.

"Because we're just barely above our target reserves that we like to have on hand, uh, it could mean that if we have real extreme temperatures like last year, that we might have to go into emergency procedures or call for conservation," said Roark.

Last summer was definitely a record with nine emergency procedures issued.

To put that in perspective in 2010 there were only two.
 

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