Texas Power Company Asks Residents to Reduce Electric Use Over Heat, 4 Months After State Plunged Into Freezing Blackout

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which controls about 90 percent of the state's power, is asking residents to reduce their electric use as temperatures rise, only four months after Texas plunged into a freezing blackout that left millions without power.

The council issued a conservation alert on Monday, saying demand was reaching supply levels, and asked Texans to conserve power through Friday due to "tight conditions."

ERCOT data indicates that demand could exceed capacity during peak hours in the afternoon, and the forecast seems unlikely to change as the rest of the week has temperatures expected to be close to 100 degrees.

In a press release, officials said the issue is the result of "a significant number of forced generation outages combined with potential record electric use for the month of June."

"We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service," ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson said. "This is unusual for this early in the summer season."

ERCOT is asking residents to turn thermostats 78 degrees or higher, turn off lights and avoid using large appliances like ovens and washing machines.

ERCOT Texas Electric Power Grid Blackout
A view of high voltage transmission towers on February 21, 2021, in Houston, Texas. Four months after a freezing blackout left millions of Texans without power, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking residents to reduce electric use due to surging hot weather. Justin Sullivan/Getty

The alert also comes less than a week after Governor Greg Abbott signed sweeping energy legislation aimed at preventing another weather disaster.

In response to the winter storms in February that devastated Texas and killed at least 150 people, Abbott signed two bills—one that would require electricity providers operating on the state's independent grid to weatherize their equipment for all seasons and improve communication during outages by creating an alert system.

"We want to make sure that the solutions that have been provided address both the summer weather and the winter weather, and we feel that all of us, as well as leaders of the Public Utilities Commission and ERCOT believe that we have achieved success with regard to weatherizing for both summer and winter," Abbott said at a June 8 press conference.

ERCOT had been anticipating record-breaking electric demand for the summer due to the hot and dry conditions forecasted for the upcoming months.

"ERCOT is identifying low-probability, high-impact situations similar to the February winter event in its seasonal assessments, to ensure all market participants and government officials have a comprehensive view into market conditions," the council said in a press release last month.

On Monday, this year's first heat advisory was issued in parts of North Texas, which included Dallas and Tarrant counties. It was expected to end at 7 p.m.

First responders were urging people to stay indoors or in cool areas, drink lots of water and check on children and seniors.