The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) isn’t so reliable these days, and it recently announced that it has some tight grid conditions due to many forced generation outages. During the winter storm that froze most of the Deep South, Texas Governor Greg Abbott claimed that frozen wind turbines were the cause of ERCOT’s mass outages — when, in fact, it was frozen natural gas pipes.
To solve this newest problem, ERCOT wants Texans to reduce their electric use as much as possible through June 18. The statement touched upon forced generation outages mixed with potential record electric. High electricity use in the month of June is the reason for these tight grid conditions, which is especially brought on by hot temperatures.
Texas gets hot — very hot. So, telling Texans to reduce their electricity is pointless. They are going to use their air conditioning, and if they lose power, lives could be lost. This is a deadly heat that those not from the Deep South can’t imagine. Drinking water and staying cool is the only way to beat this kind of heat.
The press release says that it’s only through Friday, June 18, but let’s look at the five-day forecast just to show you how impossible this task ERCOT gave its customers is. In Houston, the highest temperature was 100 degrees today. It will bounce in the mid-90s until Friday when a storm rolls in. It’s also been similar to those temps here. These numbers are before you factor in the humidity — which makes these temps feel hotter than what they are.
Here in Baton Rouge, the high was 93 and the heat index was expected to hit 105 degrees. Personally, I prefer this type of heat to the bone-chilling cold we had back in February. However, we need electricity to stay cool — or warm for the cold temps.
Unless Texans aren’t going to be using the electricity — perhaps going on a week-long vacation — I don’t see them reducing their usage. Not while it’s so hot. ERCOT stated that those who own generators have reported around 11,000 MW of generation being forced outage for repairs. Of that number, around 8,000 MW is thermal and the rest is intermittent resources. The summer Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy noted that a normal range of thermal generation outages on hot summer days is around 3,600 MW. This should tell you how hot it is.
“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.”
One key step that ERCOT wants homeowners to take is to set the thermostat to 78 degrees or higher and noted that every degree of cooling increases the energy usage by 6–8%. However, many homes, such as mine, may not have central air and heat. Window units are common (I have two of them). I’m using myself as an example here to show another reason why some Texans may not be able to set the thermostat. Depending on the type of window unit one may have, the options may just be turning it on or off. Or any adjustment to the temperature could cause the home to be warmer. I have mine set on 69 (the coolest it can go).
The other two steps are ones I’ve been doing. Turning off your lights and avoiding using the oven and other large appliances that generate heat. One way to stay cool that they didn’t mention was to eat cooling foods. Fruits such as watermelon chilled in the fridge is definitely a treat.
Tesla’s Presence in Texas Could Help ERCOT Serve Its Customers
Tesla having a presence in the state’s capital city of Austin could be the start of a path to cleaner energy that would provide relief to the grid. A clear example of this is the recent coal plant explosion in Australia. A coal-fired plant in Queensland exploded, which resulted in mass power outages affecting over 470,000 customers. However, the Hornsdale Power Reserve, which is a Tesla Powerpack system in South Australia, stepped in and saved the day in seconds.
It was reported that the response was instantaneous and that it took two seconds for a Tesla Powerpack to respond to a national crisis. Tesla’s presence in Austin should inspire the state’s leaders to consider integrating a Tesla Powerpack with ERCOT’s energy mix. It would definitely nudge the state away from fossil fuels.