ERCOT - Introduction to ERCOT - 15/Jan/2024

ERCOT – Introduction to ERCOT – 15/Jan/2024

Introduction to ERCOT

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is a membership-based non-profit corporation that operates Texas’s electrical grid. The grid, that ERCOT manages, covers about 75 percent of the state’s land area and serves over 26 million customers. Established in 1970, ERCOT’s primary responsibilities include managing the flow of electric power to consumers and providing a fair and impartial market for wholesale electricity.

Organization and Operation of ERCOT

ERCOT is governed by a board of directors, comprising industry members elected by the members of ERCOT and five unaffiliated members who are approved by the Public Utility Commission of Texas alongside a Public Counsel who represents residential and small commercial consumers. The Board also includes a non-voting member who represents the independent generators and power marketers.

As the grid operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects over 46,500 miles of transmission lines and over 570 generation units. Its functioning involves the coordination of both market participants and stakeholders, and it also serves as the policy advisor to the state legislature on electric issues.

The Critical Role of ERCOT

ERCOT plays an indispensable role in Texas’s power industry. While it does not own power plants, it does essential work in matching output from generators with demand from utilities and other entities. Also, it does not own transmission or distribution lines but is responsible for their reliable operation and access.

Promoting competition and ensuring the reliability of the electric service are integral parts of ERCOT’s philosophy. In the competitive retail markets, customers can choose their electricity providers. Therefore, ERCOT’s operation is crucial to maintaining the balance of electricity supply and demand.

ERCOT and Power Outages

When a significant power outage event occurs, like the severe winter storm in February 2021, ERCOT’s role and response are immediately brought to the spotlight. Despite best efforts, such crisis moments can often reveal challenges with infrastructure, planning, and communication.

The 2021 winter power crisis was triggered by an unusual cold snap, which led to increased demand for heat at a time when many of the state’s power plants were offline for regular maintenance. It brought to the surface room for improvements in the organizational and operational components of the power operation landscape. Such instances highlight the importance of ERCOT’s response capability and stability.

Improvement Measures

In the wake of the power crisis, proper measures are required to prevent future disasters. Ensuring that power plants can operate in extreme weather conditions or creating additional capacity for energy generation could be potential approaches. Further, up-to-date planning and foresight for severe weather events from entities like ERCOT could also potentially avert similar crisis situations.

ERCOT and the Future of Texas Energy

In the grand scheme of energy transition towards more sustainable sources, ERCOT’s role is crucial. It will continue to serve as a balancing actor, integrating various renewable energy sources into the grid without compromising the reliability of electricity supply.


  • ERCOT represents about 90% of the state’s electric load
  • ERCOT’s grid includes over 46,500 miles of transmission lines and over 610 generation units
  • During the February 2021 power crisis, approximately 4.5 million customers in Texas were without power
  • Texas is the largest energy-producing and energy-consuming state in the US
  • Image Description

    A comprehensive infographic showcasing the structure of ERCOT, the areas under it, the network of transmission lines, and the share of different energy sources in the grid. The image also contains data shown in the ‘Notes’ section—representing the facts and figures about ERCOT vividly.