The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued a conservation appeal on Sunday night demanding Texans, who are enduring a record-breaking arctic blast this week, reduce their power usage and turn down their thermostats on Monday morning. The goal of the appeal, ERCOT claimed, is to lessen the strain on the state’s “tight” grid and caution Texans that their electricity reserves are dwindling.
According to the latest ERCOT press release, the grid’s green energy sources are to blame for the stress. The subsidized wind and solar power ERCOT relies on to meet Texans’ power needs can hardly keep up with customers’ electricity demands in the 100-plus degrees Fahrenheit heat waves, much less the winter.
“Solar generation isn’t available in the early morning hours, which is a peak demand time during winter, and slowly ramps up as the sun rises,” ERCOT admitted. “Wind generation is forecasted to be lower than seasonally expected in the early morning hours.”
Monday’s statewide electricity usage forecast of 83,000 megawatts far surpasses the December 2022 “all-time winter peak demand record of 74,525 MW” and sits dangerously near ERCOT’s “all-time peak electricity demand” of 85,508 MW in August 2023.
The electricity operator emphasized that the call to conserve energy “does not indicate ERCOT is experiencing emergency conditions at this time” and still sits one level below a statewide energy emergency alert.
For the millions of Texans who ERCOT stranded without power during record-low temperatures at the beginning of 2021, the request to reduce electricity usage amid hazardous sub-zero temperatures and wind chill conditions looks like a dire warning sign of another potential power grid collapse.
Already, ERCOT noted that the conservation appeal issued for Monday morning could easily extend to Tuesday when the operator is “expecting similar conditions” and grid exertion due to “continued freezing temperatures and very high demand in the morning hours.”
Texans, unlike residents in colder, northern states, are severely underprepared to handle long spurts of cold and icy conditions. Their panic over being sentenced to their homes in low temperatures without power caused chaos at local grocery stores, which were cleaned out of essentials over the weekend.
During Winter Storm Uri in 2021, Texans’ unpreparedness, combined with ERCOT failures, led to damages like frozen and burst pipes, resulting in $11.2 billion in insured losses throughout the state.