Statewide Electric Grid

A Modern Grid to Meet Modern Demand

The Old Way

During the first half of the 20th century, power was produced, transmitted, and distributed locally. That meant local conventional power plants would generate electricity that would then be transmitted short distances to be distributed to individual customers. For example, the Seaholm Power Plant was constructed in downtown Austin in the early 1950s to supply power and meet demand for the growing Austin area. 

old, local power distribution

The New Way

Later, as transmission technology improved and utilities could deliver power over longer distances, utilities began to connect their electric systems. This eventually developed into a shared Texas state grid, as having a shared electric grid was more efficient, reliable, and economical. Having a shared grid is especially beneficial to us here at Austin Energy. This means we can generate renewable wind energy at our wind farms and utility-scale solar plants on the Texas coast and in West Texas, which helps us reach our sustainability goal of 65% renewable energy by 2027. 

new, long distance power distribution

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas

Texas is the only state in the lower 48 U.S. states to have its own power grid. There are three main grids in the U.S.: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection and the Texas Interconnection. The Texas state grid is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Founded in 1970, ERCOT is one of 10 regional reliability councils in North America. It is an independent, membership-based, not-for-profit organization. Austin Energy is an ERCOT member.

ERCOT's Role

ERCOT administers and is responsible for the reliability of the state’s power grid. ERCOT:

  • Serves about 85% of Texas, or 25 million Texans
  • Oversees 78,000 megawatts of generation
  • Schedules dispatch of power over 46,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 550 generation units

Deregulation in Texas

Retail electric deregulation in Texas began in 2002. ERCOT now facilitates the operation of the retail competitive market. Austin Energy is not participating in retail deregulation.

Austin Energy does:

  • Participate in the ERCOT wholesale market
  • Take part in balancing power needs for the statewide grid
  • Contract to buy or sell power from other parties
Austin Energy is the Qualified Scheduling Entity (QSE) for Austin Energy’s load and generation. As the QSE, Austin Energy bids and offers its load and generation into the nodal ERCOT market for its wholesale activities.

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Date last reviewed or modified: 05/20/2019