Texans urged to conserve power as grid operator warns of possible rolling blackouts amid heatwave

·2-min read

Texans have been urged to conserve electricity on Monday amid the potential for rolling blackouts as forecasters warned of a dangerous heatwave across the state.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), operator of Texas’ power grid, issued a statement on Sunday calling on homes and businesses to voluntarily conserve power between 2-8pm. The Texas grid is self-contained, meaning there’s no way to transfer electricity to it from other states.

While no system-wide outages are expected, ERCOT’s website states that Texas faces a “potential reserve capacity shortage with no market solution available”.

Dangerously high temperatures are expected on Monday, with parts of the state averaging 110 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit (43 to 45.5C). Excessive heat warnings and heat advisories are in place for Texas, the Plains and the Upper Midwest, the National Weather Service said.

Heatwaves will become hotter and more frequent as the climate crisis accelerates. As the global average temperature inches towards 2C above 19th century norms, heatwaves that once occurred every 10 years will happen about every other year — and be 2.6C hotter than before, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Southwest is the second-fastest warming part of the US after Alaska.

ERCOT said that the current heatwave was driving record high electric demand across the state. It also noted that while solar power was operating at near full capacity in the state, low winds meant that turbines were generating at less than 10 per cent of capacity.

ERCOT advised consumers to conserve electricity during peak times by turning up thermostats by one or two degrees, and not running major appliances or pool pumps.

On Monday morning, ERCOT reported that the grid had enough power for current demand.

The Texas power grid has been closely watched since a deadly winter storm in February 2021 which left millions of people without power, water and heat for days as ERCOT scrambled to prevent a collapse when electricity production dropped off.

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