It's another hot day across Texas and it's another day that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking Texans to cut back on energy use for most of the day on Wednesday.
By now, we all should know what that means. ERCOT is asking the people of Texas to move their thermostats to 78 degrees from 2-9 p.m. and avoid using large appliances like dishwashers, washers, dryers, and anything else that would consume a lot of energy.
The good news? No rolling blackouts are planned and ERCOT doesn't expect they will need them.
So why the call to reduce power and adjust the comfort of our homes and businesses? According to the Texas Tribune, higher than expected outages at coal and natural gas-fired power plants is one of the problems, but so is the lack of wind. Not only is wind generation a problem, so is solar. And of course since it is hot outside, people are cranking up the AC.
“The fleet has been run extremely hard this year and especially this summer, so it’s not surprising that wear-and-tear is starting to bear out in the form of components breaking,” said Michele Richmond, executive director of the Texas Competitive Power Advocates, which represents power generators.
Solar power, which has performed well this summer, was also struggling Wednesday to produce as much electricity as expected, ERCOT said, because of some dark clouds over solar farms in West Texas.
When Texans were asked Monday to conserve electricity, ERCOT said that appeal reduced demand on the power grid by 500 megawatts during the afternoon. ERCOT did not come close to implementing rolling blackouts.
Again, the good news is that rolling blackouts aren't expected to be needed. But two appeals to the public in less than a week shows that more work needs to be done to make sure the grid is able to function comfortably for a state that is so rich in energy.