Texas Power Conservation Alert Raises Alarm Across Texas

ERCOT says roughly 25% of generating units are offline because of scheduled maintenance to prepare for summer heat.

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Just two months after massive power outages shut down the state, the Texas Electric Reliability Council issued an alert Tuesday afternoon asking Texans to conserve electricity over concerns there might not be enough power to meet demand.

ERCOT, which manages the power grid, insisted it did not anticipate any power outages and by 9 p.m. it pulled back on its statewide appeal to conserve power.

But the conservation alert rattled Texans, still stunned by the February power disaster that burst pipes, destroyed homes and took at least 130 lives. That alert also raised concerns about whether the state's recently unreliable power grid is really ready for summer because it came on a spring day with fairly moderate temperatures. No sizzling triple-digit heat. No winter storm.

ERCOT said the power supply concerns were caused by a large number of power plants being down for seasonal maintenance -- something that typically happens in April. ERCOT officials said that about 25% of power generating units are currently undergoing maintenance. An ERCOT executive defended allowing so many plants to shut down at the same time, saying it's essential that maintenance work be complete before the summer.

“This is the maintenance season. This is the time to get everything ready for them, hotter weather,” ERCOT Vice President Woody Rickerson said.

ERCOT also said Tuesday's weather turned out slightly different than forecast, with temperatures a little warmer than expected in parts of the state.

“We can't control the weather and our forecasting is somewhat limited in how accurate the weather forecasts are,” Rickerson said.

The governing body that manages the state's power grid is calling on Texans to conserve energy Tuesday afternoon and evening as demand nears the available supply.

But on social media, Texans expressed disbelief that a spring day could stress the power grid.  One NBC 5 viewer tweeted “It's 80 today. What happens when it's 100? Get it together Texas."

Another wrote, "Didn't they say a few weeks ago we would be fine for summer??"

Several weeks ago ERCOT issued its annual seasonal assessment which assured Texans there would be enough power to meet demand in June, July and August.

And ERCOT stood by that prediction, saying when more plants are back online the state should be fine. But they did not entirely rule out the possibility of problems.

“There may be days like today where the margin is tighter than what we would like to see,” Rickerson said.

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