Rolling power outages could sweep across the state through Tuesday if demand outpaces supply as expected because of the bitter cold.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid, emphasized Texans should reduce energy consumption as temperatures dropped. The grid could reach unprecedented winter demands, said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT’s senior director of system operations.
Demand is one of the issues facing the power grid, but the cold is causing other problems, too. Electric generators are vying for natural gas as people turn to that fuel for heating. Icy conditions also knocked out almost half of the state’s wind power generation capacity as wind turbines froze across the state, Woodfin added.
“Due to this high demand and reduced resource availability … we could be in emergency operations as early as … [Sunday night] and we would expect to be in emergency operations tomorrow through at least Tuesday morning,” he said.
There are three levels of energy emergency alerts, and rotating power outages are the last resort to ensure the state power grid remains stable.
Then, ERCOT directs the entities that own transmission and distribution wires, such as Oncor, to reduce the overall demand and by how much. Those providers will initiate rotating outages, turning off power to neighborhoods for about 15 to 30 minutes at a time, Woodfin said.
ERCOT hopes to reduce the possibility of people losing power for uncertain periods by spreading the outages in small, controlled amounts.
As per last night, its not only Texas. The blue area is likely the worst 5 days of winter in the lifetime of anyone that has spent their life here and is highly unlikely to repeat itself to this extent in their lifetime pic.twitter.com/2FkhnGkRMT
— Joe Bastardi (@BigJoeBastardi) February 14, 2021