Extreme weather and power demand caused the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to enter emergency conditions and initiate rotating power outages statewide starting at 1:25 a.m. on Monday. ERCOT officials said the outages were necessary because demand is exceeding supply.
About 10,500 megawatts of customer load was shed at the highest point– enough power to serve approximately two million homes.
An ERCOT official said in a press conference Monday morning that the rolling outages are expected to continue through at least part of Tuesday, and possibly all day Tuesday.
Extreme weather conditions caused many generating units – across fuel types – to trip offline and become unavailable, ERCOT officials said.
There is now over 30,000 megawatts of generation forced off the system, according to ERCOT.
“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness.
“We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” said Magness. “At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units. We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to lower their energy use during this time.”
ERCOT has only instituted three systemwide rotating outages in its history. The most recent one was more than 10 years ago on Feb. 2, 2011 in response to a blizzard affecting the state.
— NWS Fort Worth (@NWSFortWorth) February 15, 2021
The outages may last 30 minutes or longer, according to CoServ, a Denton County energy provider. If you experience an outage lasting more than two hours, contact your power company.
Oncor’s expected outage length of 15 to 45 minutes has been significantly extended, the company said in a Tweet. “Outages due to this electric emergency could last for hours & we ask you to be prepared. In addition, we are responding to separate outages caused by the record-breaking winter storm that continues to impact our entire service territory. We are doing everything possible to respond to each of these power emergency events.”
I have gathered information all day from ERCOT & the Public Utilities Comm. & will provide a detailed update shortly.
Many power generation companies facilities froze overnight and shut down their ability to generate power.
They are working to get power back on line.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 15, 2021
ERCOT says “energy conservation is critical.” Requests from ERCOT to reduce power usage include:
-Turn down thermostats to 68 degrees.
-Close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
-Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
-Avoid using large appliances (i.e., ovens, washing machines, etc.).
-Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.
-Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.
The weather has also caused a drastic decrease in natural gas pressure. CoServ posted on Nextdoor: “We need you to conserve as much energy as possible to avoid a prolonged service interruption. Please lower your thermostat to 64 degrees immediately.”
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration Friday afternoon for all of Texas as a massive winter storm wrecked havoc on the state’s electricity grid, power lines and roads.
Check back for updates.