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A Typically Warm April Day in Texas Stressed Power Grid

Texan were urged to conserve electricity, though weather was not unusual for spring
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2021 12:23 PM CDT
A Typically Warm April Day in Texas Stressed Power Grid
The electric grid manager for most of Texas issued an electricity conservation watch Tuesday, April 13, 2021 appealing to customers to conserve electricity despite weather conditions typical for spring.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The power grid in Texas, which was disastrously ill-equipped to handle a winter storm and cold snap in February, ended up struggling again on Tuesday when the day turned out to be warmer than expected in parts of the state, although conditions were not unusual for the time of year. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees the state's standalone grid, urged customers to conserve electricity and warned that it may have to "enter emergency conditions," CBS Austin reports. ERCOT said supply was "tight" because a cold front had stalled, leading to more air conditioning use than expected amid temps that reached into the 80s in places. The other major factor: around 25% of the state's generating capacity was offline for regular maintenance ahead of the high-demand summer months.

The request to conserve electricity was lifted after a few hours, but the fact that a warm day led to warnings about emergency conditions didn't exactly inspire confidence in the system. The Texas legislature is currently considering several bills to reform ERCOT, whose CEO was fired after the devastating blackouts in February, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Woody Rickerson, ERCOT’s vice president of grid planning, told reporters that shutting down generating capacity for seasonal maintenance is a "balancing act" that doesn't leave a lot of room for error. Rickerson said that since ERCOT is a grid entirely within Texas, it can't access the market for spot electricity from other grids. Its self-contained nature also means it isn't subject to federal regulation. (More Texas stories.)

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