ERCOT Appeals to Texans To Turn Up Their Thermostats After 6 Power Generators Trip Out During Hot Weather

Toby Hazlewood

A sign of things to come this summer?
Woman with fan in heatShutterstock

In response to the recent hot weather in Texas, the Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued an appeal to customers on May 13, to turn up their thermostats in order to protect the supply of electricity across the state.

The request for customers help came after 6 power generators were knocked out by the surge in demand for electricity, resulting in the loss of around 2900 Megawatts of electricity.

In a statement, the interim CEO of ERCOT - Brad Jones appealed for help:

“We’re asking Texans to conserve power when they can by setting their thermostats to 78-degrees or above and avoiding the usage of large appliances (such as dishwashers, washers and dryers) during peak hours between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. through the weekend,”

A repeat of last summer?

ERCOT's seeming inability to maintain the supply of electricity when Texans most need it, to power their air conditioning and keep cool during extremely hot weather, brings to mind events of last summer.

At that time, it was surfaced by news outlets that many Texans had unknowingly enrolled their thermostats into an energy-conservation promotion called Smart Savers Texas, run by a company called EnergyHub.

This would allow their thermostat to be controlled remotely using the thermostat's software, giving power companies the opportunity to increase temperatures in customer homes and to reduce the demand for electricity.

As happened on May 13 2022, in June 2021 ERCOT had also called for consumer assistance in avoiding power outages. The announcement made on June 14th included a worrying indication of the scale of the potential problem:

"...a significant number of unexpected power plant outages, combined with expected record use of electricity due to hot weather, has resulted in tight grid conditions. Approximately 12,000 megawatts of generation were offline Monday, or enough to power 2.4 million homes on a hot summer day"

ERCOT under scrutiny

Following a difficult winter in 2021, when ERCOT was in part blamed for over 200 deaths caused by harsh winter weather and a shortage of electricity - this time for heating homes - many are wondering if ERCOT's power supplies are adequate for the needs of Texas.

Time will tell whether the appeal for customers to use less electricity allows power generators to remain online and meet the demand.

Have you suffered power shortages in the midst of the recent hot weather? Do you feel confident that the power supply in Texas is adequate for customers' needs? Let me know in the comments section below.

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