It wasn’t long ago that Texas made national headlines for weeks after its independent power grid massively failed during a historic winter storm.
Now that summer has arrived, the state is experiencing a blistering heatwave, which has apparently become so serious that, according to the Washington Examiner, residents of the state are being urged to do their part in conserving power by cranking up their thermostats to 78 degrees, and unplugging non-essential appliances around the house.
What’s going on?
The emergency request came down from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which controls the state’s famously independent power grid.
The organization expects higher-than-usual demand for power for the month of June, which formed a perfect storm given that several power plants are currently non-operational, leaving the state teetering on the brink of a new wave of outages while temperatures soar past 100 degrees in some areas of the state.
A statement with further details on the budding crisis was released by ERCOT on Monday, with the council saying that 11,000 megawatts of power generation across the state is currently offline due to the power plant outages. That number is several times higher than typical outages at any given time, which ERCOT also addressed.
“We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service,” said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT’s vice president of grid planning and operations. “This is unusual for this early in the summer season.”
Wind turbines, which are hailed by many as the future of power generation, have also underperformed recently — at the time when residents of the state desperately need them to do what they’re supposed to do.
A serious situation
Because extreme weather on both ends of the temperature scale can lead to sickness, widespread chaos, and death, ERCOT has urged its customers to dial up their thermostats to 78 degrees, refrain from using major appliances like washers, dryers, ovens, and pool pumps, according to The Texas Tribune.
The urging of power customers to severely cut back on the usage of such appliances, including air conditioning, is typically the first steps taken by an energy company to avoid blackouts when the supply of power falls below current safety margins.
Not surprisingly, ERCOT was widely ridiculed on Monday on various social media platforms, with customers and critics blasting ERCOT for not being prepared for such events.
ERCOT in February “we shut down because it was just too cold, our grid is built to handle the Texas Summer”
ERCOT in June “ohh my bad, its also too hot”
— Matt Stepp (@Matt_Stepp817) June 14, 2021
To be fair, Texas does a lot of things right, which is why it’s one of the most desirable places to live in the country, especially for conservatives. However, while the idea of having an independent power grid sounds fantastic, it appears that they have a lot of work ahead of them to make sure it can handle the occasional increased grid demands.