Texas grid operator calls on users to conserve power amid heatwave
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the Lone Star State’s self-contained power grid, called on residents to voluntarily conserve power amid a heat wave Monday.
In an advisory Sunday, ERCOT appealed to residents and businesses to conserve power between 2 and 8 p.m. Monday. The operator warned of shortages in reserve power capacity during the same period, but said it did not expect any system-wide outages.
ERCOT is projecting a total of more than 79 gigawatts’ worth of demand over the course of the day, a new record. Compounding the demand, low winds are likely to place further strain on the grid, with wind power generation at less than 10 percent of capacity. Solar power, meanwhile, is far closer to full capacity, at 81 percent, according to ERCOT.
Meanwhile, parts of the state saw average temperatures of 110 to 114 degrees as much of the southern U.S. has seen the impact of a “heat dome” in recent days. This has been acutely felt in South Central Texas. The National Weather Service projected “dangerous heat” in the Austin-San Antonio region over the course of the day, appealing to locals to regularly check in on elderly family members and neighbors.
The advisory from ERCOT comes two months after the grid operator called on customers to conserve power over the weekend of May 13-15. Six power plants unexpectedly went down that Friday in the state, causing the loss of some 2.9 megawatts of power.
The challenges of a self-contained grid made national headlines in early 2021, when extreme winter weather knocked out the ERCOT grid. Grid operators have said the grid has made necessary adjustments since then, but former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), who is challenging Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in November, has repeatedly raised the grid’s preparedness as an issue on the campaign trail.