Austin, TX: Texans remember all too well, the power grid failure earlier this year, during a historic winter storm that left many without power. Few in Austin can forget Winter Storm 2021, when snapped power lines, combined with single-digit temperatures, had the demand on energy high, and the energy supply low. Energy companies asked everyone to conserve usage.
Local residents thought the problem was behind us. We thought that ERCOT, the Energy Reliability Council of Texas, who fired their CEO, Bill Magness, without cause would have fixed the problem.
Austin residents are feeling a case of deja vu as we're in the heat of Summer and residents are being asked to conserve their energy use again. Residents, who had the heat of summer in the back of their minds as another period of high energy use wonder, why hasn't the problem been fixed?
In Austin, many people were without power for several hours without notice or explanation. My personal service was interrupted for five hours. The energy company, Oncor, notified Austin residents by text that they were aware of the outage.
Oncor notified Austin residents again by text, that repairs would take longer than expected. And a little after 5 pm power was restored. There was no mention of power outages or conservation efforts until Monday.
As of Monday, ERCOT began asking Texans to conserve electricity again, through the Austin News affiliate, KXAN News, then continued asking for conservation efforts on Tuesday:
“It’s Day Two of conservation warnings from @GregAbbott_TX delicate power infrastructure,” Adler tweeted Tuesday morning. “It’s still technically spring and Texas is experiencing late-summer temperatures, power plants offline, and the governor is tweeting about a border wall that he can’t fund.”
Austin Mayor Steve Adler poked at Governor Gregg Abbott on Twitter.
On Twitter: "Maybe when a corporation tells the governor that an unreliable power grid is bad for business, he'll finally listen. He doesn't seem to care about whether it's bad for people."
The state of energy in Austin, and throughout Texas, is questionable. Residents wonder if the power grid can meet capacity, and it appears, on the early side of Summer, the Texas power grid cannot meet capacity needs.
ERCOT was "supposed to have enough reserves to meet peak demand this summer, yet here we are in mid June with the first bout of high temperatures and they are already seeking conservation," said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, a provider of commodities data and analytics.
Austin Energy has the online capability to view and report power outages here.
It wasn't long ago that residents were asked to conserve. Common sense measures include raising the thermostat a few degrees and shifting appliances that use large amounts of electricity to off-peak hours. Examples of these kinds of appliances include the oven, the washer, and the dishwasher.
In April, ERCOT asked customers to reduce electricity use while repairs were made, but it seems that the grid continues to underserve power needs across the state.
At this time, it “appears unlikely” that the ERCOT grid would need to implement outages, like it did in February, to reduce strain on the grid, Warren Lasher, ERCOT senior director said.
Austin residents remain wary.