Texas grid operator ERCOT was forced to take unprecedented emergency measures on Wednesday to avoid rolling blackouts amid a heatwave as wind turbines failed to produce energy due to low winds.
ERCOT manages electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers and represents 90% of the state’s electric load, according to the company.
On Monday ERCOT asked customers to voluntarily raise thermostats a degree or two, turn off lights, avoid using ovens, washing machines and dryers, and unplug appliances if possible during the hours of 2-8 pm.
According to ERCOT, a heatwave along with very low winds is causing the latest conservation alert.
“Wind generation is currently generating significantly less than what it historically generated in this time period,” ERCOT said in a press release. “Current projections show wind generation coming in less than 10 percent of its capacity.”
ERCOT was forced to take emergency action two days after it issued a conservation alert.
“ERCOT blamed forced outages at coal- and natural gas-fed power plants, and low wind power generation.” Reuters reported.
Of course a spokesman for ERCOT did not provide specifics on the types of generating plants that were experiencing outages.
Texas’s power grid operator on Wednesday took emergency measures to avoid rolling blackouts as soaring electricity demand threatened to outpace available supplies amid a stifling heatwave.
The emergency notice came after ERCOT began paying suppliers an average of $5,000 per magawatt hour to keep generators running. That price is the highest the grid operator pays.
“They were pulling a lot of levers to avoid going into emergency operations and rolling blackouts,” said Doug Lewin, president of consultants Stoic Energy LLC.
With temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), higher than the average for this time of the year, the state had projected Wednesday’s peak demand to hit 78,762 megawatts.
Stoic’s Lewin said there was less coal and natural gas generation capacity available on Wednesday than on Monday when ERCOT last called for conservation measures.
It was the third time this year that ERCOT has called on residents to cut power usage and the second time it has warned of the potential for rolling blackouts. As on Monday, it avoided forced cuts when big power consumers agreed to halt operations.
Recall, Texas got hit with a rare cold snap in February 2021 that spanned to the southern part of the state and the power grids gave out.
Power outages were initiated by ERCOT during the cold snap.
Millions of Texans went without electricity for several days in a row last year.
Temperatures fell into the teens near Dallas and 20s around Houston with wind chills near zero.
According to state authorities, nearly half of the wind turbines in Texas froze, hurting the power supplies.
Millions of Texans suffered blackouts partly due to the frozen wind turbines.
And now Texans are being asked to raise their thermostats in the middle of summer because of low wind generation.