Inside the Ercot Control Center

Michael Giberson

David Wagman, chief editor of Power Engineering magazine, toured the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ primary control center in Taylor, Texas as part of a group attending the Renewable Energy World Conference in Austin.  If you wonder what ERCOT’s control center is like:

Inside the control room, the most striking feature is the lack of noise. The room, which must be 50 by 50 with a 35-foot ceiling, is library quiet. And that’s the way they like it, Joel Mickey told me in a video interview I filmed with him and which will be on this web site in the near future. Anything else suggests a system that’s out of balance or with a problem. Eight people work in the control room, responsible for everything from day-ahead forecasting to on-the-spot transmission balancing. Each has a bank on consoles.

The front wall consists of a massive projection screen with perhaps a dozen displays showing the grid and various real time operating conditions. Two digital displays at either side of the room report the current load, the time and the system’s cycle. Those numbers in particular move up and down within a narrow range around 60 cycles. Every four seconds the control center pulses commands to generating units around the state, commanding changes in generating output up or down to keep 60 cycles in the center of the target.

More at the link, including some description on how wind power is changing the system operator’s job.

(HT to the Caprock Plains Wind Energy Association.)