The Texas power grid is built with high temperatures in mind. But this week, before the official start of summer, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas was already urging customers to conserve power to prevent rolling blackouts.
Erin Douglas, energy and environment reporter for The Texas Tribune says ERCOT told reporters during a conference call that an abnormally high number of power plants were offline at the same time this week, which led to ERCOT’s conservation warning. ERCOT did not say what the reason was for those outages, other than “something went wrong,” or needed repair, Douglas says.
Those outages amounted to a lost of 12,000 megawatts of power on Monday alone, which is enough to power about 2.4 million homes on a hot summer day, she says.
The outages don’t bode well for the summer ahead, when temperatures in Texas will continue to rise. But Douglas says normally, Texas’ grid does well during peak summer demand – it’s “built for the heat,” she said, which is why the outages are troubling.
So far, there are no signs the outages are an attempt by power companies to manipulate the energy market by driving up prices, Douglas says.
And she says there’s no connection with recent legislation aimed at strengthening the grid. Those improvements are years away and wouldn’t have caused outages.
ERCOT is trying to improve its planning and preparation for potential extreme weather, and its effects on the grid. Douglas says it updated its summer forecast after failing to properly take into account extreme weather possibilities during February’s devastating winter storm. The organization also says it will investigate the root cause of this week’s plant outages.