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Unprepared again: Texans urged to limit power use through Friday as temps rise and some power generation goes offline

With start of summer a week away, ERCOT calls for conservation Official says it’s concerning but points to generator owners;Temperatures reached the upper 90s in Dallas on Monday, as ERCOT asked Texans to reduce electricity usage through Friday. It’s notable because it comes so early in the summer season, said Doug Lewin, an independent energy consultant.

AUSTIN — The state’s power grid operator is urging Texans to cut back on energy use this week, as several power generators unexpectedly went offline Monday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has said it is confident the state’s troubled power grid will hold up through the summer months after the deadly February blackouts. But officials conceded this week’s power squeeze is unusual.

About 12,000 megawatts of generation is offline — enough to power more than 2 million homes — just as demand for electricity is spiking as temperatures in North Texas approach 100 degrees. Monday’s high was 99. Summer officially begins Sunday.

ERCOT is investigating what’s behind the unusually high number of outages. Many power generators were offline because of mechanical... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

With start of summer a week away, ERCOT calls for conservation Official says it’s concerning but points to generator owners; Temperatures reached the upper 90s in Dallas on Monday, as ERCOT asked Texans to reduce electricity usage through Friday. It’s notable because it comes so early in the summer season, said Doug Lewin, an independent energy consultant.

AUSTIN — The state’s power grid operator is urging Texans to cut back on energy use this week, as several power generators unexpectedly went offline Monday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has said it is confident the state’s troubled power grid will hold up through the summer months after the deadly February blackouts. But officials conceded this week’s power squeeze is unusual.

About 12,000 megawatts of generation is offline — enough to power more than 2 million homes — just as demand for electricity is spiking as temperatures in North Texas approach 100 degrees. Monday’s high was 99. Summer officially begins Sunday.

ERCOT is investigating what’s behind the unusually high number of outages. Many power generators were offline because of mechanical failures or the need for repairs, officials said.

“I find the current number of units on outage to be very concerning,” said Warren Lasher, ERCOT’S senior director of system planning, during a teleconference Monday. “We operate the grid with the resources that we have available, and it’s the responsibility of the generation owners to make sure their plants are available.”

“This is not consistent with fleet performance over the past

few summers,” he added.

Texans are being asked to save energy through Friday by setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and avoiding use of large appliances, like ovens and washing machines.

Previous blackouts

The call for conservation comes as fears persist about the reliability of the state’s electric grid, after a winter storm in February triggered statewide power outages that left millions without heat and at least 133 people dead.

The blackouts are estimated to have cost the state’s economy as much as $130 billion and drove several power retailers and an electric cooperative into bankruptcy.

“This is a priority to ensure that generators can perform as we head into summer months,” said ERCOT spokeswoman Leslie Sopko. “We are immediately working to mitigate this risk.”

It’s not the first time Texans have been asked to cut back on energy use since the winter storm. On a mild April day, ERCOT issued a conservation notice to residents and businesses as it struggled to meet electricity demand that was higher than forecast.

This week’s conservation call is notable because it comes so early in the summer

season and lasts for multiple days, said Doug Lewin, an independent energy consultant with Stoic Energy.

‘Highly unusual’

“This is highly unusual,” said Lewin, who is based in Austin. “This is just not the way things are supposed to work. They are supposed to be ready.”

ERCOT predicted a peak demand load on its system of 73,000 megawatts, far above the June record of 69,123 megawatts set between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on June 27, 2018. However, about 11,000 megawatts

of the grid’s 86,862 megawatts of generating capacity was offline Monday, ERCOT said, leaving a razorthin margin of reserve capacity of about 3,000 megawatts.

ERCOT did not name the generators that are offline.

The majority — about 9,000 megawatts — are thermal power sources fueled by coal, natural gas or nuclear power, officials said. One of the two units at the Comanche Peak nuclear plant in North Texas was taken offline over the weekend after a radiation monitor malfunctioned, according to Bloomberg

“We’re currently seeing three to four times the number of forced thermal generation outages on our system than we would typically expect to see this time of year,” Sopko said.

“We’re also seeing lower wind output than we would typically expect to see during peak conditions on a summer day and solar is also down,” she said.

Wind output was expected to be 3,500 to 6,000 megawatts between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday, about 1,500 megawatts less than what is typically available for peak conditions, ERCOT said. It said generator owners expect generator output from wind and other sources to increase as the week progresses.

Legislative action

It remains to be seen whether the episode will trigger calls for further action by the Legislature. State lawmakers are expected to return for a special session later this year to take up a contentious elections bill and redistricting.

Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed several bills that make sweeping changes to the state’s electricity grid and ERCOT’S leadership, declaring at the time that “everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas.”

It will be a day-by-day struggle to keep the system running this week, ERCOT officials said during Monday’s briefing.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Monday called the power conservation notice a “failure on the part of the state.”

“We need to do something about it right away,” Jenkins said on KXAN-TV (NBC5).


Source: https://www.dallasnews.com/...

JUN 15 2021
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