By Emily Foxhall, The Texas Tribune
“Texas asked residents to conserve power for four consecutive days amid intense heat” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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The state’s grid operator asked Texans to conserve electricity for the fourth consecutive day Sunday as intense heat threatened to cause a power-supply emergency.
But in each case, the grid held up without an emergency. Temperatures were expected to cool slightly around much of the state Monday, causing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to expect normal grid conditions.
The weekend’s heat threatened to drive demand for power to record levels as people cooled their homes. Forecasts for relatively low wind and solar power also contributed to ERCOT’s concern.
ERCOT asked people to reduce their energy use between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Sunday, a time of day that’s typically the most perilous for the grid. People crank down their thermostats against the persistent heat, but solar power dwindles as the sun sets.
If people try to pull more power off the grid than is available, grid infrastructure can be badly damaged. ERCOT can trigger emergency operations to prevent that from happening. A worst-case scenario would bring rolling power outages.
The call to conserve energy came as Texans experience scorching temperatures. Houston tied its hottest day ever Sunday, with temperatures reaching 109 degrees. The high was projected to be 107 in Austin and 101 in Dallas.
Unlike the rest of the United States, much of Texas is on the ERCOT power grid, which largely stands alone. Operators in a statement said they were calling on large power users to reduce their consumption and asking other grids to provide what limited help they could.
Residents can conserve energy by turning up thermostats a few degrees and refraining from using large appliances such as washing machines and clothes dryers.
In addition to the past four days, similar calls were also made on Aug. 17 and 20.
In a statement Saturday, ERCOT credited “conservation efforts by Texas residents and businesses” for helping avoid emergency operations that day. It gave a similar report Sunday night.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/08/25/texas-ercot-grid-energy-conservation-friday/.
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