As sizzling temperatures loom in the forecast for Texas, officials with the state’s Public Utility Commission and ERCOT said on Thursday the power grid will be able to handle the heat.
Those officials expect record power usage in Texas next week as temperatures will be in the triple digits for the first time in 2021 in many areas of the state, including Dallas-Fort Worth.
“We are in a good position,” PUC Chairman Peter Lake said in a Thursday news conference.
But millions of people in Texas were without power in February when a winter blast crippled the power grid and more than 200 people died.
When asked about the chances of rolling blackouts in Texas next week, ERCOT Interim President and CEO Brad Jones said there would be enough power to serve Texans. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is the organization tasked with managing Texas’ power grid.
In June, ERCOT called on residents to reduce electricity use, citing significant strain on the grid due to forced outages at power plants combined with potential record demand. The organization reported more than 12,000 megawatts of generation was out in the state one day in June.
One megawatt typically powers around 200 homes on a summer day, according to ERCOT. Jones said on Thursday that usage could be at 74,000 megawatts next week.
Jones noted that conservation will remain a tool for ERCOT.
“I believe we will keep conservation,” Jones said, pointing out that power conservation had been used earlier this year on the east and west coasts.
The ERCOT official said the June outages could have been caused by some generators having mechanical problems from the winter blast in February and less time for maintenance this spring.
Officials said more than 31 units had been inspected this summer. According to ERCOT, such checks have happened in the past for winter weatherization, but not for summer.
During the February winter storm, fearful the entire grid would collapse, ERCOT initiated statewide blackouts as millions of people had no heat for days. ERCOT has defended the decision as necessary to prevent total collapse of the grid as demand outpaced supply.
Texas lawmakers passed a wide-ranging bill in response to the winter storm that, among other measures, requires electricity generators, transmitters and critical natural gas facilities to prepare for extreme weather.
Just a few days ago, ERCOT announced its own “roadmap” of 60 proposals to improve the grid. On Thursday, officials pointed out that they had reached 22 of the 60 proposals.
ERCOT’s plan vows to “adopt a more aggressive approach” to operating the grid. That will mean bringing more power online sooner if necessary and purchasing more reserve power in advance to keep the grid stable on days when the weather forecast is uncertain.
This report contains information from Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives.