ERCOT asked Texas electricity users to cut back on electricity consumption this week. A significant number of power plants were offline simultaneously on Monday, and as of Wednesday afternoon, about 9,000 megawatts of electricity were still offline, an ERCOT spokesperson said (via the Texas Tribune). This week’s heat led to high electricity demand — that factor, combined with the downed units, meant that the grid operator was forced to take precautions to see that demand does not exceed supply.
There are three to four more plant outages this year compared to the same time other years, ERCOT says, but added that it does not expect to require rolling blackouts any time soon, writes CBS Austin.
In terms of the offline units, officials have said only that power generation plants were down for repairs, but some experts believe the February storm that led to such severe outages may have damaged plants, leading to current complications.
ERCOT, or the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, issued a statement saying that when it asked for conservation on Monday, “Texans responded strongly by reducing electric demand during the late afternoon.” The organization encourages Texans to continue to conserve power each afternoon through this Friday.
The grid is operating “exactly as it was designed and intended,” ERCOT continued. “The issuance of conservation notices is a common practice and prevents ERCOT from entering emergency conditions. Conservation efforts combined with the changes in procedures and processes implemented by ERCOT and the PUC following the winter storm prevented the possibility of rotating outages yesterday and ensured that no Texans lost power.”
ERCOT is a membership-based nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. It oversees 90% of Texas’s energy production.