Texas power grid

‘We Feel Confident': Texas Power Grid Expected to Meet Demand as Hot Summer Months Near

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The hot weather and a conservation alert last weekend have some Texans on edge as we look ahead to a long summer.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas and ERCOT, the state's power grid operator, say there's no need to worry and operational changes made will ensure residents aren't left in the dark.

"We were tested last weekend and our reforms worked," said Peter Lake, Chairman of the PUC of Texas in a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

Lake and Brad Jones, interim CEO of ERCOT, detailed some of the reforms they say were in place in time for last weekend's heatwave.

  • The state made sure to have more power available going into the weekend.
  • Texas now has more power reserves than in years past, 23% this year compared to about 16% reserves last year, Jones said.
  • ERCOT is also operating with "caution," getting generators online and sending conservation requests "sooner rather than later."

"Bottom line for each of you is that we feel confident about the summer," said Jones to reporters in Austin.

The two leaders said the request for Texans to conserve electricity came only after six power plants failed suddenly, including some that had been offline for scheduled maintenance ahead of the summer months but were asked to return to service.
The six plants went offline between 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday, during peak hours.

A number of smaller plants went offline, though details were not released during the press conference.

But even then, Jones said, it did not rise to "emergency status."

Energy expert Doug Lewin joins NBC 5 to discuss the concerns over the Texas power grid performance during record heat over the weekend and what Texans need to know going into the summer months.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was asked about the conservation request and six power plants on Tuesday.

"What ERCOT did by making the announcement on Friday was a greater level of transparency that did not exist before [winter storm] Yuri," said Abbott, a Republican.

"Two of those outages were completely unrelated to any mechanical problem. It was a personnel-based issue that was quickly resolved. On the mechanical ones that went down, they were quickly repaired."

A call to conserve, Lake said, was part of an ongoing effort to be more transparent of any tight grid conditions knowing many Texans are wary of ERCOT following the deadly February 2021 outage.

"We tried to be very clear and upfront with people about the hours, when it was important and how they can contribute to help," said Lake. "After a tragedy like a year ago, yes absolutely, we must regain the trust of our customers and we will. This increased transparency, these proactive efforts are part of that."

The state is moving forward with Phase II of reforms, prioritizing long-term reliability and a transition to on-demand power sources, according to Jones.

ERCOT will add roughly 7,000 megawatts of solar, 3,000 megawatts of wind and 1,000 megawatts of natural gas energy by the end of the year, added Jones.

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