El Paso, Texas Night Skyline
El Paso, Texas (Photo: iSTock.com/pabradyphoto / Illustration: Energy Pages )

Wholesale electricity prices in Texas shot up to $9,000 per megawatt-hour (mWh) May 30.

The pricing anomaly was the result of an error from a Calpine IT employee mistakenly reported a significant decrease in electricity supply. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) raised prices to $9,000/mWh to compensate.

It turns out these types data errors were relatively common between March and June 2019, according to research firm First Principles Economics.

Firm Reveals More Than 50 Data Errors in Four-Month Stretch

First Principles Economics presented data to ERCOT’s board revealing that between March and June electricity generators sent incorrect generation data 55 times.

What makes these errors jeopardize ratepayer’s trust is that ERCOT maintains they are not responsible for incorrect pricing if they receive bad data.

If prices rise because of bad data about electricity capacity, ratepayers and energy traders like Aspire lose out.

Furthermore, electricity generators stand to gain millions via these mistakes, Aspire argued in a letter to the PUC requesting that ERCOT correct the pricing during the $9,000 interval.

“The ‘cost’; of the artificial and fictitious price spike created by ERCOT was $18,374,229. These were real prices and real expenditures and represent a very significant unjustifiable transfer of wealth from load to the generators.” Aspire wrote.

Meanwhile, energy supply company Griddy recognized the error almost immediately. The company sent out an email to its customers telling them the company would absorb the cost of the price hike.

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