The operator of Texas
' main power grid has asked residents to conserve energy
until the end of the week, citing "tight grid conditions" in the face of potential record demand.
According to the Electric Reliability Council
of Texas, the state's power grid, which operates independently of the rest of the country, is experiencing a number of power plant outages in conjunction with increased electricity use.
According to ERCOT, generator owners have reported approximately 11,000 megawatts of forced outage for repairs, of which approximately 8,000 megawatts are thermal and the remainder are intermittent resources. A typical range of thermal generation outages on hot summer days is approximately 3,600 megawatts. One megawatt normally powers approximately 200 homes on a hot summer day, implying that the offline energy generation is sufficient to power approximately 200 homes.
On June 27, 2018, ERCOT set a new peak June energy demand record of 69,123 megawatts. Monday's peak demand is expected to exceed 73,000 megawatts.
“We will conduct a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service,” said Woody Rickerson, vice president
of ERCOT’s grid planning and operations, adding that “this is unusual for this early in the summer season.”
ERCOT has issued a Conservation
Alert, and Texans
are being asked to reduce their electric usage safely. — ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) June 14, 2021
The operator advises Texans to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, turn off lights and pool pumps, and avoid using large appliances such as ovens, washing machines, and dryers. Residents are also encouraged to turn off and unplug unused electric appliances.
The request comes months after a severe winter storm left many Texans facing extremely dangerous power outages, which left millions without electricity and heat for days and may have killed as many as 700 people
, according to a BuzzFeed News
analysis of mortality data. The operator, grid, and Gov. Greg Abbott
(R) faced intense backlash for their handling of the outages.
Texas, unlike the rest of the continental United States
, operates on its own, mostly isolated network on purpose. State lawmakers see the lack of federal oversight on their power grid as a feature, not a bug. However, isolating the power grid also makes it extremely difficult to bring in outside power in times of need.
Peak energy demand in Texas typically occurs in the summer, and ERCOT has historically been able to meet that demand; however, with several power plants
out of commission
and demand higher than in previous years, the grid is struggling to keep up with extreme weather