ERCOT calls for conserving power in heat wave; Requests may recur to avoid rolling blackouts
In addition, ERCOT had not declared the initial stage of an energy emergency as of late Monday afternoon. That designation allows ERCOT to take a number of steps short of initiating rolling blackouts, such as ordering large industrial users that are paid to be part of its emergency response programs to throttle back usage.
Still, its own initial forecasts called for peak demand of nearly 80,000 megawatts, which could have come within 500 megawatts of estimated generation capacity at one point during the day, a dangerously slim margin. Those projections didn’t include the potential beneficial effects of ERCOT’s appeal for conservation or emergency response programs that it had yet to deploy.
Taken together, such measures can curtail demand by several thousand megawatts. The agency’s conservation appeal and other nonemergency initiatives appeared to be sufficient, however, with the grid in significantly better shape as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, when supplies were exceeding demand by about 3,700 megawatts.
But Beth Garza, a former Austin Energy manager and independent market monitor for ERCOT, said conditions could be similarly tight on numerous days this summer if there’s no break from the high temperatures that have been prompting people statewide to crank up their air conditioners.
Temperatures throughout Texas are expected to remain high at least through the coming weekend, but ERCOT officials didn’t say Monday afternoon whether they intend to ask for additional conservation this week.
“Given the weather forecasts that I have seen, yes, we should expect more of these (conservation appeals) going forward” throughout the summer, Garza said. “We are going to have a long, hot slog of it” as long as temperatures remain extremely high.