Power demand is expected to surpass the peak energy demand from Texas’ February freeze

A woman stands in the dark of her home looking outside
Ricki Mills looks out from her home as she waits for a fire hydrant to be turned to get water, in Dallas. The single mother had her apartment flooded in February by a pipe that burst during the record winter cold and was waiting for repairs to restore water to the apartment complex. Less than six months later, the state faces threat of another blackout.

  • Texas’ electric grid managers are warning residents to conserve energy to prevent blackouts.
  • ERCOT said that several generators are currently in need of repair.
  • Power demand on Monday is expected to surpass the peak energy demand from Texas’ February freeze.
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Texas’ electric grid managers warned residents to reduce electricity usage “as much as possible” through June 18 as several of the state’s generators face outages.

Generators creating roughly 15% of Texas’ power are in need of repair, according to a press release from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). More than 70% of generators facing outages are thermal-based, meaning they are reliant on coal, gas, or nuclear energy to generate power.

ERCOT said that Monday’s peak load forecast on the electrical grid may exceed 73,000 MW, surpassing the peak demand set in the February freeze of 69,692 MW. According to ERCOT, the highest peak demand record for the grid is 74,820 MW, which occurred in August 2019. For reference, 1 MW can power around 200 homes during the summer.

The state’s grid is also facing strains because wind-generated power is “roughly 1,500 MW lower than what is typically available for peak conditions,” though ERCOT noted that experts expect wind output to increase throughout the week.

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

The highs in Texas are expected to hit at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit during ERCOT’s proposed period of energy conservation.

ERCOT faced a bevy of criticism for a massive blackout, that impacted much of the state, in February, which led to an estimated 700 deaths and the “biggest epidemic of CO poisoning in recent history” as families tried to stay warm amidst freezing temperatures, according to a ProPublica report.

After signing two bills in June, Gov. Greg Abbott said that “everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas.”

Texas State Sen. Kelly Hancock said in June that the legislature’s mission was to prevent February’s blackout from reoccurring.

“Our ultimate goal was to make sure that those individuals, those consumers, our constituents back home, never ever had to deal with this issue ever again,” Hancock said.

Despite the intentions of the Texas legislature, ERCOT’s website shows that energy prices are skyrocketing as the state electric grid becomes more and more reliant on its reserves.

ERCOT provided a few tips for Texans to reduce their electric use:

  • Set thermostat to 78 degrees or higher as “every degree of cooling increases your energy use by six to eight percent”
  • Turn off all unused lights and pool pumps
  • Refrain from using large, high energy-use appliances like washing machines, ovens, and dryers
  • Turn off and unplug anything unnecessary

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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