Breaking News
More () »

'Bent, but didn't break' | The grid was put to the test Thursday, but kept the power on

One expert we talked to said solar played a role. He also said Texans could be asked to conserve again Friday.

TEXAS, USA — It was a close call for the Texas power grid on Thursday, as it was tested in the extreme Texas heat.  And while it kept the lights on across the state, Texans may be asked to conserve energy again on Friday.

With demand and temperatures expected to soar, ERCOT issued a conservation request a little before noon. It went into effect at 3 p.m. and was allowed to expire at 10 p.m. as supply stayed ahead of demand.  

ERCOT's request for Texans to conserve apparently paid off. 

“The grid bent, but didn’t break,” Daniel Cohan with Rice University said. “It was a day when we had really tight conditions. It was extremely hot here in Houston.  We hit an all-time record of 109 degrees.  It was over 100 degrees in most of the state.”

Cohan said the state has added a lot of solar power capacity in recent years and that played a big part in avoiding the need for any rolling blackouts Thursday.

CHECK THE GRID: Here's where you can check supply and demand

He also said the grid conditions could once again be tight on Friday, so it’s possible we’ll be asked to conserve again.

The Houston area did have more than 30,000 power outages at one point, but those came with strong storms that came through.

What happens when voluntary conservation isn't enough?

If conservation requests aren't enough, ERCOT may call for an Energy Emergency Alert. That has three different levels, with the first two designed to bring more generation to the grid.

The alert goes to Level 1 if operating reserves get below 2,300 MW and aren’t expected to recover for 30 minutes. If that happens, all available generation is brought online and any undeployed reserves are released.

Level 2 is reached if reserves drop below 1,750 MW and aren’t expected to recover within 30 minutes. If that happens, large industrial customers are paid to reduce power and more reserves are deployed.

Level 3 happens when operating reserves drop below 1,430 MW. Transmission companies are told to reduce their demand on electrical systems. It’s in Level 3 that rolling outages are possible. According to ERCOT, the outages are the last resort to prevent system-wide outages.

ERCOT has only ordered rolling outages four times.

  • December 22, 1989
  • April 17, 2006
  • February 2, 2011
  • February 15-18, 2021

If you rely on power for medical reasons, have a backup plan in place, whether battery backups or by generator.

KHOU 11 on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Before You Leave, Check This Out