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Texas energy providers plan for future growth

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Amarillo, TX - The state's power grid may not be able to keep up with the state's growing population in the near future, according to a recent report.

ERCOT released a report Monday (Dec. 11) that determined unless they expand to generate more power, they may be unable to handle a period of peak demand, like last summer.

And although we're not connected to the ERCOT grid here in the panhandle, Xcel Energy is also planning for growth.

Texas is growing by about a thousand people a day, and extreme weather like last year's drought can push power suppliers to their limits.

Texas is served by three different power markets, all of which have different needs and changing populations.  And the supplier that serves 75 percent of the state may be pushed to its limits within the next several years.

"ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission of Texas have been looking very closely at this issue for well over a year now," says Robbie Searcy, an ERCOT spokeswoman, "and we're working to ensure that the market fundamentals are in place, and the policies are in place to encourage development of new generation in the ERCOT region."

Here in the panhandle, we're served by Xcel Energy, which is regulated as a public utility.

"Our marketplace is very different," says Xcel Energy Spokesman Wes Reeves, "we're regulated not only by the state of Texas, but also the federal government because we cross state lines.  So totally different regulatory environment, totally different power grid, and a totally different marketplace.  So anything that happens in ERCOT doesn't really have any effect here."

So although you won't see power outages anytime soon, you may continue to see a few rate increases as Xcel funds new expansion projects.  Currently, Xcel is expanding in Lubbock and plan to have a transmission line reaching from Lubbock to Oklahoma by 2014.

ERCOT is expected to come out with a second report next week outlining how they intend to accommodate future growth.

To see this most recent report for yourself, follow the link attached to this story.

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