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'Extremely frustrating': Energy expert says Texas' power grid is overdue for a major overhaul

"Certainly it's not a wintertime issue, it's not a weatherization issue. It's equipment that's old and hasn't been maintained," Ed Hirs said.

HOUSTON — Yesterday was the sixth day in a row with temperatures in the triple digits.

It was also the second day this week that ERCOT, Texas' power grid operator, asked everyone to conserve energy to avoid outages.

Editor's note: The above video originally aired on July 13.

"This has got to be extremely frustrating for the consumer, because as we look out, we see prices really really high and ERCOT telling us to use much less at a time when we need it most," KHOU 11 energy expert Ed Hirs said.

ERCOT's conservation requests started in May this year, which is why Hirs is concerned about what will happen in August.

He says above-average temperatures are only part of the problem.

The Lone Star State's population is growing and Hirs says it's time for Texas to spend money upgrading our power infrastructure. 

"Certainly it's not a wintertime issue, it's not a weatherization issue. It's equipment that's old and hasn't been maintained," Hirs said. "If we continue to have weather patterns that don't give significant wind, our system will be underwater and unable to respond to consumer demand."

Earlier this week, ERCOT Interim CEO Brad Jones admitted he is concerned about some of the state's older power generators keeping up with the record demand for power this summer.

Jones said the extreme heat scenario for this summer estimated that demand could reach above 81,000 megawatts, which was the original forecast for Monday. Originally, forecasters gave that a 5 percent chance of happening, according to Jones.

"The 81,500 (megawatts) was the extreme, but those numbers are in the system. We just start with what we think the expected case is, and in early May, the expected case was 77,500 megawatts," Jones said. 

But he’s hopeful that they’ll be able to keep everyone’s lights on.

So far, there haven’t been significant outages. ERCOT says one reason is because requests for people to conserve energy have worked.

KHOU 11 News has received several questions from viewers asking if big companies that use the most power are required to conserve energy when there’s a threat of outages in the state.

The answer is no. It’s optional for businesses just like the rest of us.

ERCOT says it hopes big businesses comply with requests.

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