Texas’ power grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which came under immense pressure months ago for mishandling the historic winter storm in mid-February, urged customers Tuesday afternoon to “reduce their electricity use” as a cold front swept through, causing power demand to spike.
ERCOT told customers to please “conserve energy at this time. Consumers and businesses are urged to reduce their electricity use this afternoon and into the evening.”
Texas’ power grid operator also said:
With a cold front moving through the Lone Star state some generation units were already down for repair work. Bloomberg reports one spot price for Texas power jumped as much as 10,000% on Tuesday.
In particular, the average spot on-peak electricity at Ercot’s North Hub jumped more than 10,000% to $1,975.96 a megawatt-hour as of 4 p.m, according to grid data compiled by Genscape. Prices are capped at $2,000 a megawatt hour, after regulators suspended the previous $9,000 cap following the energy crisis.
The grid has seen tight supply conditions as below-average temperatures pour into the state this week.
So far, “We do not expect customer outages. Declaring an emergency would allow us to access additional resources,” ERCOT said, although it requested energy conservation.
ERCOT is requesting energy conservation at this time. Consumers and businesses are urged to reduce their electricity use this afternoon and into the evening.
— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) April 13, 2021
The internet was not enthused by ERCOT’s grid warning today:
On Twitter users said: “Let me get this straight — you nearly killed millions of Texans because of poor resource management and being woefully unprepared in February and suddenly you need us to conserve electricity because we are in to 50s??? How are any of you still in charge of our energy???”
Another said, “I’ve already heard neighbors say they have lost power for a few minutes here and there. They were already testing their system, whatever that is.”
“Those low 60s! Can’t expect @ERCOT_ISO to handle that kind of a cold snap,” a user said.
Still, there is good news:
“This is not an extended winter storm that is going to last five days,” Ercot Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson told reporters during a briefing.
“This is a shorter event.”
Many power plants schedule annual maintenance for this time of year, when demand is expected to be lower due to lower temperatures.
A few plants were also offline to make repairs related to the February storm, Rickerson said.