TEXAS, USA — Is the Texas power grid ready for the summer heat? the Electric Reliability Council of Texas says it is.
In Austin on Tuesday, ERCOT officials answered questions to address the issue. ERCOT's CEO said last weekend was a test that proved the Texas grid is ready for the hot summer months ahead.
Not everyone is convinced. On Friday, ERCOT sent out a notice asking Texans to conserve power throughout the weekend after six power generation facilities tripped offline.
“Record-high demand, low wind and a unique number of outages in quick succession,” Public Utility Commission of Texas Chairman Peter Lake said. “It became apparent that we needed to take action.”
About 20,000 megawatts of capacity were offline for maintenance. That's enough to power about four million homes.
So, ERCOT turned to customers for help and asked Texans to set their thermostats to 78 degrees during peak hours over the weekend to conserve energy.
“In the past, we would’ve called for conservation at the last moment or even beyond that, when we were already in an emergency condition,” ERCOT Interim CEO Brad Jones said.
ERCOT said that taking the proactive step and combining it with recent market reforms worked.
“The outcome of the events on Friday is a testament and endorsement of the reforms that have been enacted as a result of SB3,” Lake said.
On Tuesday, ERCOT said it's ready for summer and the grid is more reliable now than it has ever been.
“Reforms are working. The lights are going to stay on this summer and thank you for playing your part in ensuring grid reliability. We’re all part of this together,” Jones said.
While the power conservation request has ended, ERCOT still has an operating condition notice that is active. It keeps power plants and generators on alert during the record-setting heat.
Extreme risk scenarios
ERCOT's seasonal assessment report points to two extreme risk scenarios where there might not be enough power to meet the demand.
However, ERCOT said those scenarios are very unlikely. The worst-case scenario is a peak high load combined with extreme unplanned outages and low wind output.
“That’s the most extreme of the extreme,” Jones said.
KHOU 11 News energy expert Ed Hirs said the state was also confident in the grid heading into the 2021 freeze.
He said there are now fewer generators to turn on because coal and gas units have left the grid. Hirs said the state is becoming more and more reliant on wind and solar energy. He said that's a problem when the weather doesn't cooperate.