ERCOT Warns Of ‘Tight Grid Conditions’ Wednesday, But No Call To Conserve

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued an alert Tuesday, April 13, shortly after 4:30 p.m. warning of potential “emergency conditions,” but it was not expecting power outages.

On Twitter, ERCOT said, “Due to a combination of high gen outages typical in April & higher-than-forecasted demand caused by a stalled cold front over TX, ERCOT may enter emergency conditions. We do not expect customer outages. Declaring an emergency would allow us to access additional resources.”

Back in February, widespread power outages left millions of Texans without electricity, heat, and running water during two winter storms that brought single-digit temperatures.

ERCOT says it manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers, representing 90% of the state’s electric load.

Woody Rickerson, ERCOT’s vice president of grid planning and operations, said ERCOT expected a cool front that stalled across Central Texas to have instead continued its progress across the state, lowering temperatures as it did.

The fact that the front stalled resulted in higher demand than expected, he said, adding that demand eased as the afternoon sun faded but could repeat conservation appeals over the next three to four weeks.

However, 32,000 megawatts of generating capacity had been taken offline, accounting for about 25% of the systemwide capacity, Rickerson said.

Whatever damage caused by the deadly February cold wave has been repaired, he said.

“Those outages are maintenance outages that plants have taken to get ready for the summer operations,” Rickerson said on a telephone news conference. “This is typically the time of year that we allow a lot of maintenance outages for units that are getting ready for the summer when there’s not enough bandwidth for them to take outages.”

Rickerson called the decision on whether to allow generators to shut down for seasonal maintenance “a balancing act” with narrow margins for error between supply and demand. Since ERCOT is a self-contained grid completely within the Texas borders, it is not subject to federal regulation. It also means the ERCOT grid has no access to the spot market for electricity from other U.S. energy grids, Rickerson said.

Minutes after the first tweet Tuesday, ERCOT called on Texans to conserve energy into the evening.

Customers can help by taking the following ERCOT conservation steps:

· Turn off any unnecessary lights and equipment.

· Turn thermostat up 2 to 3 degrees.

· Set programmable thermostats to higher temperatures when no one is home.

· Use fans to feel 4 to 6 degrees cooler.

· Limit use of large appliances (i.e., dishwasher, washer, dryer, etc.).

· If you cook indoors, use a microwave or slow cooker.

· Close blinds and drapes during late afternoon.

· Schedule pool pumps to run in the early morning or overnight hours.

At 8:40 p.m. Tuesday, ERCOT tweeted, “Our energy conservation appeal has ended without the need for an energy emergency. Thank you for conserving energy when it was needed.” Staff