Austin Energy is going to update their Resource Generation Plan for the first time since 2020. For those who don’t know, in 2020, the utility committed to going carbon-free by 2035. According to this article in the Austin Monitor, the update has been necessitated by regulatory changes following the winter storm of 2021, increased summer time demand, new storage technologies, and an increasing reliance on wind and solar that’s produced outside of Austin.
It should come as no surprise that demand in rising in Austin, but this quote from Michael Enger, Austin Energy vice president of marketing operations and resource planning, shocked me:
“I can tell you that back in 2020, we had about 49 intervals where we exceeded 2,700 megawatts load here in the city of Austin,” Enger said. “This last summer we exceeded that 900 times, so our load is growing significantly here, especially on those hotter days.”
Enger goes on to explain that the biggest challenge the utility faces in meeting their carbon neutral goal in infrastructure. The renewable energy they increasingly rely on comes from different parts of the state, wind coming from the panhandle and gulf coast and solar coming from fields east of Austin. The utility explores the transmission problems they face and potential solution in their recently completed transmission study.