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Gov. Greg Abbott downplays ERCOT conservation notice at press conference

ERCOT's conservation notice continues through Friday. Abbott said ERCOT asked Texans to conserve energy because multiple power generators were being repaired.

AUSTIN, Texas — The energy grid in Texas “is better today than it’s ever been,” Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press conference Wednesday. 

But, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is still asking Texans to conserve power as a part of its conservation notice sent out Monday.

Abbott said ERCOT sent out the notice only because repairs were being made to multiple power generators, so less power would be available than normal, especially during the high heat. He said the amount of unavailable energy due to the repairs totaled 9,000 megawatts.

However, in a press conference Monday, Senior Director of System Planning at ERCOT Warren Lasher said amount of unavailable energy due to the repairs totaled over 12,000 megawatts. 9,066 of those were from thermal (gas and coal) generators. 3,112 were from renewable energy sources.

Lasher said the variability in output for renewable energy sources is well known, but “what is dramatically inconsistent is the forced outages in the thermal fleet.” He said there were three-to-four times more outages Monday than what is typically seen at this time of year.

Abbott also said “water conservation notices” are normal and sent out every summer in Texas. ERCOT asked Texans Monday to reduce their “electric use.”

On a hot summer day, one megawatt can usually power 200 homes. ERCOT is working to figure out why so many generators were out service. Lasher said this is “not consistent with fleet performance over the last few summers.”

“I think I would say that I find the current number of units on outages to be very concerning ... We operate the grid with resources we have available," Lasher said Monday. "My concern is the resource owners need to make sure their plants are available over the summer months."

Abbott signed two bills this month to reform ERCOT, Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 3, following the failure of the Texas power grid during the 2021 winter storm.

SB 3 requires all power companies and some natural gas companies in Texas to upgrade their facilities to withstand extreme weather. However, upgrades are not required until 2022.

Abbott said one component of the bills, better communication from ERCOT, could be seen this week. 

RELATED: Texas at 'elevated risk' of energy shortages this summer: Report

“This was an example of that greater communication to let people know what was going on,” Abbott said.

Otherwise, he said it takes a while for bills like this to go into full effect. He said Texans saw “basically zero implementation” of the legislation.

Abbott said the people complaining about the power grid “were hoping there would be a power failure” at the press conference. Abbott also said the repairs to the offline generators were completed.

“I can tell you for a fact that as we’re sitting her today, the energy grid in Texas is better today than it’s ever been,” Abbott said Wednesday.

ERCOT’s conservation notice is expected to last through Friday, June 18. Texans are encouraged to conserve energy during peak hours, or 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.


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