ERCOT Warns Power Outages Possible This Week If Folks Don’t Conserve Energy Pronto

Texas' power grid operator is worried electricity demand might outstrip supply this week.
Texas' power grid operator is worried electricity demand might outstrip supply this week.
It turns out that arctic winter storms aren’t the only times Texans have to worry about the state’s power grid crapping out.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas asked state residents on Monday to cut down on their electricity usage through Friday to prevent possible power outages across the state, an alarming warning that came a week before the official first day of summer.

ERCOT issued its alert in a Monday afternoon press release, which blamed “A significant number of forced generation outages combined with potential record electric use for the month of June” as the reason for the “tight grid conditions” expected to last for the next several days.

The grid operator said on a normal hot summer day in Texas, it’s not unusual for “around 3,600 MW” of power generation to be offline due to errors or repairs. But on Monday, “Generator owners have reported approximately 11,000 MW of generation” being on forced outage for repairs.

“One MW typically powers around 200 homes on a summer day,” ERCOT’s news release read.

ERCOT is concerned that Monday’s peak power demand “may exceed 73,000 MW” — which dwarfs the previous recorded June peak of 69,123 MW set on June 27, 2018 between 4 and 5 p.m. — unless Texans cut their power usage as soon as possible and keep consumption low through June 18.

“We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service. This is unusual for this early in the summer season,” said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT’s Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations, in a statement Monday afternoon.

ERCOT asked Texans to “take these simple actions to help reduce electric use” Monday through Friday this week:

  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher – every degree of cooling increases your energy use by six to eight percent.
  • Turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dryers.
  • If you don’t need something – we are asking you to turn it off and unplug it if possible.

ERCOT’s announcement came just days after Gov. Greg Abbott signed two new bills he and Texas lawmakers claimed would make sure widespread statewide power outages like the ones that left millions of residents powerless for days during February's winter storm would never happen again.

“Bottom line is that everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas,” Abbott claimed at the bill signing ceremony.

Dallas' forecast for Tuesday calls for a high of 97 degrees and sunny with daily highs in the mid to upper 90's expected to last through Friday.