Jul 11, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Texas risks summer blackouts with broiling 100-degree days

A transmission tower is seen Monday in Houston. ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) is again urging Texans to voluntarily conserve power due to extreme heat potentially causing rolling blackouts. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Texans held their breath Monday as more record heat put the state's power grid to the test.

Driving the news: The Texas power grid operator asked people to conserve electricity this week as temperatures hover above 100 degrees in most of the state's major cities.

What's happening: ERCOT's forecasts projected an energy demand that came perilously close to the grid's power generation capacity. Monday's needs were projected to exceed the amount of energy generated by about 100 megawatts around 5pm, according to the Houston Chronicle.

  • One megawatt is enough electricity to power about 200 homes on a hot summer day.
  • Texas has already broken its all-time record for energy demand twice this summer.

Of note: ERCOT officials said their plea for conservation appeared to work.

  • By 5pm Monday, the agency indicated that the state would avoid grid problems.

Flashback: Months after last February's deadly winter storm left millions of Texans without power for days, ERCOT again in June asked residents to reduce electric use as much as possible.

  • The winter blackouts cost Texas an estimated $90 billion.

The big picture: America's energy grid was built for a world that no longer exists, the Council on Foreign Relations says.

Yes, but: Recalibrating our energy resources wouldn't be an easy switch.

  • Bolstering the Texas electric grid would require a diversity of generation, significant increases in transmission and energy storage placed in critical areas.

Between the lines: Another catastrophic failure of the state's energy grid could have a big impact on the governor's race in November.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott's approval rating hit a seven-year low — while his public disapproval peaked — a few months after the 2021 winter storm.

What's next: ERCOT has not yet indicated whether Texans will need to conserve electricity today despite continued triple-digit temps.

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