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Texas grid demand reaching capacity, ERCOT urging Texans to conserve energy

With high temperatures looming over Austin for the next week, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which controls about 90% of the state's electricity flow, is asking residents to conserve energy usage through Friday, June 18.

ERCOT issued the conservation alert via Tweet on Monday afternoon, saying that a high number of "forced generation outages combined with potential record electric use" during June have created tight grid conditions. Austin Energy echoed the request.

ERCOT is attributing the "tight grid conditions" to more electric generators than usual being shut down for repairs.

June is going to be hot—temperatures are expected to peak around 96 degrees every day through Friday. It's just the start of the Texas summer season with high temperatures likely not dipping below 90 degrees for the rest of the month.

ERCOT data indicated that energy demand may exceed capacity during peak heat hours. According to ERCOT, approximately 11,000 MW of generation is on forced outages for repairs and today's peak load forecast may exceed 73,000 MW. The previous record for June was 69,100 megawatts in 2018.

One MW typically powers 200 homes on a summer day.

ERCOT shared voluntary guidelines to reduce energy usage:

  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher–every degree of cooling increases your energy use by 6-8%.
  • Turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dryers.
  • If you don't need something–turn it off and unplug it if possible.

ERCOT has been under scrutiny since the grid collapsed in February during Winter Storm Uri, leaving millions of Texans in the cold and dark for days. The mass outage prompted a series of changes, including resignations, termination of President and CEO Bill Magness and a state investigation.

ERCOT previously said in May that it expected a relatively mild summer for emergency conditions and said it expects a peak energy demand of 77,144 MW through September.


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