Less than 60 days after widespread blackouts left millions without light and heat for days during a deep winter freeze, Texas is once again facing a potential power-grid emergency.
As a cold front swept through, causing power demand to spike, Texas’s power grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), urged customers to “reduce their electricity use” on Tuesday, April 13. ERCOT recently came under fire for mishandling the historic winter storm in mid-February.
After a mild cold front failed to reduce demand as expected, the grid operator asked for conservation and warned that it might have to declare an emergency to bring more power plants online. They expect 25% of power generators to be offline for repairs. In some parts of the state, wholesale electricity prices increased by as much as 10,000%.
“We don’t anticipate having any outages,” said Bill Magness, CEO of ERCOT. “But it is a day we are seeing tight conditions on the grid.”
The alert came just two months after a winter storm in Texas caused devastating blackouts, knocking out nearly half of the state’s generation power. State lawmakers have been scrambling to enact a series of market changes in order to prevent a repeat of the disaster, which claimed the lives of more than 100 people.
Woody Rickerson, an ERCOT official, stressed that Tuesday’s conditions are not a repeat of the February crisis, and “This is not an extended winter storm that is going to last five days.”
Only when backup power supplies dropped below 1,000 megawatts, down from over 3,000 now, would blackouts occur. Rickerson said this is unlikely but admitted that the grid operator miscalculated solar and wind output on Tuesday, resulting in the supply shortage.
Many power plants undergo annual maintenance at this time of year when demand is anticipated to be lower due to the cooler weather. A few plants were also shut down for repairs following the February storm, according to Rickerson.
Back in February, record low temperatures in Texas left millions of Texans without power. It is suspected that several people may have frozen to death though this has not been confirmed, because wind power generators stopped and the grid collapsed.
President Joe Biden was pushing the controversial theories of climate change and leading the country toward the production of so-called green energy, even at the cost of millions of jobs and the loss of the country’s energy autonomy engineered by former President Donald Trump.
The Texas catastrophe is a warning about shifting to reliance on “green power” generation and associated risk to American lives.