A Texas-sized challenge

Demand response could help resolve Texas’ shortage of generation capacity, but how should the Lone Star state retool its power markets to bring about more demand-side participation? The answer will have nationwide implications, Alexander Osipovich finds

US power markets

It was August 4, 2011 and Texas was in the midst of a brutal heat wave. The temperature in Dallas had reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) for the past two days, and as Texans ran their air conditioners, the load on the state power grid had just hit an all-time high. System operators at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot) feared that rolling blackouts might be necessary.

Instead, they declared a ‘level 2’ emergency, and Ercot’s main demand response (DR) programme

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