Image
PROMO 64J1 Energy - Power Lines Sky Sunset Clouds High Voltages - iStock - zhaojiankang

Texans asked to conserve energy for fourth time in nine days

© iStock - zhaojiankang

Emily Foxhall

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas warned that the grid could be further strained through the weekend.

 

Image
PROMO 64J1 Map - States Texas - iStock - klenger

© iStock - klenger

© iStock - klenger

© iStock - klenger

Extreme heat continued to affect much of the state, threatening to drive demand for power to record levels as people cool their homes. Forecasts for relatively low wind power also contributed to ERCOT’s concern.

ERCOT asked people to reduce their energy use between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Friday, a time frame that’s typically the most perilous for the grid. People returning home from work crank down their thermostats against the persistent heat, but solar power dwindles as the sun sets.

If people try to pull more power off the grid than is available, grid infrastructure can be badly damaged. ERCOT can trigger emergency operations to prevent that from happening. A worst-case scenario would bring rolling power outages.

 

Image
PROMO Energy - Electric Meter Money Power - iStock - MarkPiovesan

© iStock - MarkPiovesan

© iStock - MarkPiovesan

© iStock - MarkPiovesan

Unlike the rest of the United States, much of Texas is on the ERCOT power grid, which largely stands alone. Operators in a statement said they were calling on large power users to reduce their consumption and asking other grids to provide what limited help they could.

Residents can conserve energy by turning up thermostats a few degrees and refraining from using large appliances such as washing machines and clothes dryers.

ERCOT previously called for people to reduce their power use on Aug. 17, 20 and 24.

You can follow grid conditions here and sign up for emergency alerts here.


The full program is now LIVE for the 2023 Texas Tribune Festival, happening Sept. 21-23 in Austin. Explore the program featuring more than 100 unforgettable conversations coming to TribFest. Panel topics include the biggest 2024 races and what’s ahead, how big cities in Texas and around the country are changing, the integrity of upcoming elections and so much more. See the full program.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/08/25/texas-ercot-grid-energy-conservation-friday/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.