ERCOT Warns Texans May Hit the Limit on Power Use Today & Surges Prices

Electricity supply concerns across Texas continued Tuesday as the possibility of power outages continued to loom.
Electricity supply concerns across Texas continued Tuesday as the possibility of power outages continued to loom.
After begging Texans to conserve power Monday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas on Tuesday is still asking folks to limit their electricity usage amid a statewide heatwave and an unusually high number of offline power generators, a combination that could lead to power outages if conditions don’t improve.

According to ERCOT’s website, the power grid operator’s forecast for Tuesday shows the statewide demand for electricity is coming dangerously close to the maximum supply that can be generated, and that demand for electricity was extremely close to tapping into the state’s energy reserves as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, ERCOT’s real-time power market map showed the wholesale price of electricity in the greater Houston area surged to $1,000 per megawatt hour before falling back down to just under $80 about half an hour later, a tactic used by ERCOT to give power producers a financial incentive to do everything they can to muster up more electricity when demand threatens to outpace supply.

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ERCOT predicts electricity demand could reach into the state's energy reserves ahead of a Tuesday night demand peak.
ERCOT’s forecast shows that across Texas, the demand for electricity on Tuesday is expected to peak by 8 p.m.

On Monday, ERCOT issued an alert that Texans needed to do what they could to limit energy use through Friday as it tried to figure out why so many power generators were offline. ERCOT asked state residents to unplug unused appliances, to avoid using large appliances like dishwashers and washing machines if possible and to turn their thermostats up to 78 degrees.

ERCOT officials said Monday that rolling power outages across the state would be a last resort, but didn’t rule out the possibility that some Texans could lose power if more electricity generators don’t come online.

While energy supply has recovered somewhat after Monday’s troubling lows, there are still approximately 7,000 more megawatts of power offline in Texas than is normal on a typical hot summer day; typically, a single megawatt can power up to 200 homes, according to ERCOT.