The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking state residents to conserve electricity Monday through June 18 as much as possible due to significant generating capacity being forced offline, low wind output and potentially record electricity demand this month.
ERCOT predicted that its system might set a new peak demand record — 73,000 megawatts — for the month of June on Monday. The current record is 69,123 megawatts, set nearly two weeks later in the month, on the afternoon of June 27, 2018.
“At this time, we are not ruling out the need to declare an energy emergency to protect the reliability of the electric system as a whole,” ERCOT said. “We will continue to monitor system conditions and provide updates if needed.”
ERCOT is asking residents statewide to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher; turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances such as ovens, washing machines and dryers; and turn off or unplug anything that uses electricity if it’s not necessary.
ERCOT said that as of 2:30 p.m. Monday generator owners in the state were reporting 12,178 megawatts of generation were forced offline due to breakdowns. Of that, thermal power plants, such as natural gas or coal-fired plants, accounted for 9,066 megawatts and intermittent resources, namely wind generation, made up the rest, it said. Warren Lasher, ERCOT senior director of system planning, said only 500 megawatts of offline capacity was planned and scheduled.
According to the summer Seasonal Assessment of Resources Adequacy, the typical range of thermal generation outages on hot summer days is approximately 3,600 megawatts, one megawatt being the amount of energy it usually takes to power 200 homes in summer weather, ERCOT said.
Lasher said in a conference call with reporters late Monday that it wasn’t clear why so many generating units were out of service at the same time, but that the situation was very concerning.
“We will be looking very hard at what units are offline and why they are offline and when they expect to come back online,” he said. My concern is that the resources owners need to make sure that their plants are available over the summer months. … It’s the responsibility of generation owners to make their plants available during peak summer months.”
Lasher said the order for rotating outages is the third and final stage after ERCOT issues an Energy Emergency Alert, after the issuance of energy conservation notices and voluntary reduction of consumption by some high-volume users, and after support is sought from neighboring regions. He said he would have more information today (June 15) about when the offline power plants would come back online.
Woody Rickerson, ERCOT vice president of grid planning and operations, characterized the situation as “unusual for this early in the summer season.”
Leslie Sopko, ERCOT communications manager, said a statewide energy emergency alert system is in the works to give the public more advance warning when there’s a problem. Also, ERCOT has launched a new summer 2021 web page that will feature any relevant news and information.