Almost four months after the state faced widespread power outages after a historic winter storm, the Texas power grid is again dealing with significant problems while dangerous weather conditions are in place, with an ERCOT official saying Monday there is a “very concerning” amount of power plant outages ongoing.
Warren Lasher, the senior director of systems planning for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said at a briefing Monday that it’s unclear what’s causing the power plant outages.
Most of Texas is dealing with far above-normal temperatures—many areas seeing highs approaching 100—along with large swaths of the southwestern U.S., as a high pressure system known as a heat dome has moved in place.
Around 10,000 utility customers had lost power in Texas Monday afternoon, and—according to ERCOT—there’s no need at this point to implement rolling outages like those done in February, which left millions without power or heat in record cold temperatures.
About 80% of the power plant outages are from thermal plants, according to ERCOT, which are mainly natural gas-powered plants.
ERCOT issued an advisory Monday calling on Texans to “reduce electric use as much as possible” through Friday because of “tight grid conditions,” recommending residents set their thermostats to 78 or higher.
What To Watch For
ERCOT has auxiliary gas turbines it can use if more of the power supply goes offline.
“This is unusual for this early in the summer season,” Woody Rickerson, ERCOT’s vice president of grid planning and operations, said in a statement.
ERCOT leadership has been ousted and massive reform measures have been put in place after February’s disaster, with the power outages largely blamed for causing at least 150 deaths, according to the state’s official count. But a BuzzFeed News analysis released last month estimated a much higher death toll—around 700. The most substantial move to reform ERCOT came last week, when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a bill into law to establish weatherization standards for electric companies, and fine them up to $1 million for failing to comply. “Everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas,” Abbott claimed, but any new requirements for weatherization aren’t expected to be enacted until at least next year.