Jan 16, 2024 - News

ERCOT issues electricity conservation appeal

Illustration of an ice cube shaped like Texas.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The state's grid operator asked Texans to conserve energy again this week as temperatures remained below freezing in much of the state.

The latest: ERCOT officials called on residents to voluntarily conserve electricity from 6-9am Tuesday if it is safe to do so. The request follows officials' initial conservation appeal Monday morning.

What they're saying: Forecasts from grid officials project an energy demand that comes close to the grid's power generation capacity Tuesday and said similar conditions are expected Wednesday.

  • "ERCOT is forecasting higher demand [Tuesday morning] as Texans return to work and schools reopen," officials said in a news release, adding that the energy appeal "does not indicate ERCOT is experiencing emergency conditions at this time."

Zoom in: Austin grocery stores were packed with customers ahead of the freeze as residents prepared for possible blackouts, and precipitation in some areas Monday left thin layers of ice on cars.

  • Austin-Travis County EMS officials said they responded to four rollover collisions in an hour Monday morning, and Austin Police on Monday said they responded to 35 collisions since ice accumulation began.
  • The city's cold weather shelters will remain activated until Wednesday morning. Roughly 400 people used the service on Sunday night, according to Austin's Homeless Strategy Office.
  • As of 6am, Austin Energy did not report any widespread local outages.

Flashback: Last week, officials said they expected grid conditions to be normal, with "sufficient supply to meet demand."

Between the lines: ERCOT has been closely watched since a winter storm in February 2021 that left millions of households and businesses without electricity and killed 246 people.

  • Since then, renewable energy production has increased, and new rules are in place requiring natural gas supply chain and pipeline operators to prepare for extreme weather.

Be smart: Check your tire pressure and tread before hopping in your car. Austin Emergency Management officials also recommend keeping a winter emergency kit in your vehicle.

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