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ERCOT Makes Plea to Texans Amid 'Unplanned' Outages

Power grid officials 'deeply concerned' as heat wave strikes the region
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2021 9:04 AM CDT
ERCOT to Texans: Turn Off Lights, Ease Up on Chores
This Feb. 16, 2021, file photo shows power lines in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The power grid in Texas is facing its next challenge: a pre-summer swelter. After a winter storm and cold snap that left millions powerless in February, severe heat in the western part of the US—with temps reaching up to the triple digits expected to continue throughout the week—now has the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, pleading with customers to cut down or cease altogether certain activities through Friday, reports the Guardian. The nonprofit power-grid operator, which manages about 90% of the state's energy, is asking Texans to raise their thermostat settings to at least 78 degrees, switch off lights and pool pumps, unplug devices that aren't in use, and put off using larger appliances such as washers, dryers, and ovens through Friday, amid a new string of plant outages.

ERCOT spokesman Warren Lasher tells NBC News the company doesn't yet have an explanation for the "unplanned, unscheduled mechanical issues," but he notes officials are "deeply concerned" about them and that an investigation is needed. Woody Rickerson, the company's VP of grid planning and operations, says in a statement the outages are "unusual for this early in the summer season," per CBS News. The outlet notes that ERCOT is the only power grid in the nation that's completely enclosed within one state—making it exempt from federal regulations, but also unable to draw in supplemental power from other grids. Per the Guardian, this early seasonal push for conservation also poses worrisome questions about how the grid will function amid continuing extreme weather. (Texans were asked to conserve energy when it got warm this spring, too.)

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