spwm permianoilIt should come as no surprise that the oil boom in the Permian Basin has led to an upsurge in power usage, growing by 8 percent annually from 2012 to 2017. The overall system, on the other hand, only increased usage by 1 percent. These statistics come from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the state’s electric grid.

This new demand forced ERCOT to back nearly $600 million of transmission projects in 2016 and 2017 to improve service and lower congestion in the existing power lines that causes stress to the grid.

One reason for the rise in electric usage is oil and gas operations began tying to the grid because it was cheaper than using diesel and naturalgas generators to run compressors and pipelines.

ERCOT reported an increase of 250 megawatts because of expanded oil and gas activity. On May 10, power use in West Texas hit 3,400 megawatts for the first time.

“To say that this is load growth like we have not experienced before is kind of an understatement,” said Jeff Billo, senior manager of transmission planning with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages 90 percent of the state’s grid. “There is not an area in ERCOT that has seen that kind of load growth before. That is unheard of.”