Texas power grid straining under cold, rolling outages or blackouts possible as soon as tonight: ERCOT – KTRK-TV

The manager of Texas’ electric grid is bracing for record electricity usage while managing unusually high power-generation problems. Those issues could lead to rolling blackouts, similar to the 2011 winter storm that led to the same outcome, officials said.

The CEO of Texas’ Electric Reliability Council of Texas, better known as ERCOT, announced Sunday that the supply of natural gas to power plants was limited, and some wind turbines had frozen. ERCOT has a grid condition alert system that is now in ‘conservation alert’ status as consumption spikes across the state.

That is a step up from earlier this week when ABC13’s Nick Natario spoke to ERCOT when conditions were normal.

“We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness. “At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages. We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to lower their energy use during this time.”

ERCOT in 2011 had to cut power to at least a million Texas homes during a record-breaking cold snap that year.

The system’s outlook predicted very tight conditions, including the possibility that demand could exceed available power sometime Sunday, according to ERCOT’s website. A spokesperson confirmed the outlook, saying emergency conditions may be activated as soon as tonight.

The similarities to the two situations are hard to miss: Both systems brought significantly colder temperatures, left roads unpassable with ice and snow, and led to some power facilities going offline due to the cold, leaving the state without enough power. In 2011, the state imported power from Mexico, according to ABC13 reporting at the time.

Magness said that lowering heaters to 68 degrees, closing shades to help keep heat in, and turning off non-essential appliances and lights can help conserve energy during the cold.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday warned that all of Texas faces an unprecedented winter storm and said he’s asking for a federal disaster declaration ahead of the storm. Abbott has already issued a state disaster declaration.

FROM SATURDAY: Gov. Abbott urges power conservation, says demand may exceed supply

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