Texas state’s main power grid operator asked residents to conserve power over a likely hot weekend after six power plants were unexpectedly shut down.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has asked residents to lower thermostats to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and avoid using larger appliances.
“With exceptionally warm weather driving record demand across Texas, ERCOT continues to work closely with the electric industry to ensure Texans have the electricity they need,” said the organization said in a May 13 statement.
The National Weather Service predicts an “expanding early-season heat wave with potential record temperatures of up to 97 degrees Saturday and above 100 degrees Sunday in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Temperatures are expected to remain high through next week.
The Federal Weather Agency warns that “highs in the 90s and 100s may pose a threat to those with poor cooling or heat sensitivity.”
It’s unclear why the factories failed on Friday; the outage resulted in a loss of about 2,900 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 580,000 homes, according to the Texas Tribune.
Operators usually start asking the public to reduce electricity consumption when a network drops below a safe margin of excess supply to avoid outages.
On Saturday morning, the ERCOT dashboard indicates “there is enough power for current demand”.
Utility operators often ask residents to reduce their electricity use or avoid using large appliances like washers and dryers in anticipation of periods of high energy consumption, such as during heat waves, though Texans are on high alert for statewide grid outages and blackouts after millions of people were helpless for days in freezing conditions after a major winter and ice storm boosted energy demand, shutting down power plants and natural gas facilities.
The electricity crisis has killed at least 246 people, although some estimates put the death toll above 700.
The state spent the next year appointing new regulators and fine-tuning legislation, but experts say the state is just as vulnerable during another winter storm, especially as the accelerating climate crisis is likely to make such severe weather events more common.
The near collapse of the state’s electric grid last year can also be attributed to a 1999 decision to effectively deregulate the system by handing over control of the state’s electricity distribution infrastructure to a utility grid. private operators and market-based energy systems.
The Independent Gt