Texas farm and windmill
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Why Did ERCOT Ask Texans to Conserve Energy Last Week?

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Jun. 21 2021, Published 1:17 p.m. ET

Texans will be happy to know that they can turn on the air conditioner again because the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) says that “there is enough power for current demand.”

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Early last week, ERCOT asked Texans to reduce their use of electricity as much as possible through June 18 when the state was experiencing a heatwave with several days over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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Source: Getty Images
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Why is ERCOT asking us to conserve energy?

ERCOT requested that residents conserve energy because of “tight grid conditions” brought on by record electricity use combined with a significant number of forced generation outages. 

According to ERCOT, generator owners reported that about 11,000 MW (megawatts) of generation was on forced outage due to repairs, which included about 8,000 MW of thermal energy. One MW usually powers around 200 homes on a summer day. On a typical day, the range of thermal generation outages is usually 3,600 MW, ERCOT officials said.

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"We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service," said ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson. "This is unusual for this early in the summer season."

ERCOT electricity demand reaches a record level.

On June 14, the day ERCOT officials issued the call for conservation, electricity demand reached a record 69,943 MW. That surpassed the demand record for June of 69,123 MW set on June 27, 2018.

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To help relieve stress on the state’s electrical grid, ERCOT asked Texans to conserve energy between peak hours of 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The utility company recommended residents set thermostats at 78 degrees or higher, turn off lights and pool pumps, avoid using large appliances, and turn off and unplug anything they weren’t using.

Just a day after the request, it was clear that Texans were doing their part to conserve energy.

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"When ERCOT issued a call for conservation on Monday (June 14), Texans responded strongly by reducing electric demand during the late afternoon. ERCOT continues to encourage Texans to conserve power each afternoon during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m. through this Friday," ERCOT officials stated in a June 15 press release.

The conservation efforts just that day helped the electrical system regain 1,200M MW of power, ERCOT officials said.

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Source: ERCOT Twitter

ERCOT expects record-breaking electric demand this summer.

Last month, ERCOT officials predicted that this summer would see record-breaking electric demand due to the hot and dry conditions, as well as population and economic growth in Texas. 

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“ERCOT anticipates there will be enough generation to meet the summer 2021 peak demand of 77,144 MW. Based on this forecast, the ERCOT region will have a 15.7 percent reserve margin this summer season,” the utility stated in a May 6 press release. 

Things could continue to get hotter in Texas. A climatologist at Texas A&M University predicts that the number of 100-degree days in the state will double by 2036. 

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