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After six power plants unexpectedly went out Friday — and hot weather is expected across Texas this weekend — the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Friday night is urging consumers to conserve electricity through Sunday.
Texans are being asked to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. this weekend and refrain from using large appliances at home during that time.
A spokesman for ERCOT, which operates the state’s main power grid, told The Texas Tribune he doesn’t expect any power outages this weekend.
Frequently asked questions about the power grid in Texas
What did lawmakers do to fix the power grid after February’s crisis?
Senate Bills 2 and 3 included some key changes to the grid that experts said will begin to address some issues, such as: The legislation also changes the way the Electric Reliability Council of Texas board of directors is appointed.
What else could lawmakers have done to fix the grid?
Energy experts say lawmakers could have enacted legislation to pay consumers to reduce electricity use or to help Texans better insulate their homes and reduce their electricity use. Lawmakers also failed to provide direct assistance to people harmed by the February crisis.
What do I have to do to save electricity?
According to ERCOT, Texans can reduce power consumption in the summer by reducing power usage in the late afternoon hours, when demand is typically at its peak. You can do this by setting your thermostat to 78 degrees (or a level that’s safe for you); turning off lights and pool pumps; avoiding the use of large appliances such as ovens, washers and dryers; and turning off or unplugging unused electrical equipment.
ERCOT did not say why the systems unexpectedly went offline. All reserve power was operational to support the grid, the agency said.
The power plant failures resulted in a power outage of around 2,900 megawatts, enough to power more than 580,000 homes.
Power grids must keep supply and demand in balance at all times. When the Texas grid falls below its oversupply safety margin, the grid operator begins to take extra precautions to avoid blackouts. The first precaution is to urge the public to reduce electricity consumption.
April and May are referred to as the “shoulder months” in the energy world. This is the time of year when power plants go offline to carry out necessary maintenance and other repairs ahead of the hot summer months.
However, ERCOT recently told several power generation companies to postpone servicing their equipment to allow the grid to keep up with higher-than-usual temperatures of late, which in turn will result in increased electricity demand when Texans crank up their air conditioners.
Friday’s power plant outages were unrelated to recent maintenance delays, an ERCOT spokesman said.
While it’s not uncommon for electric grid operators to act as a precaution, asking consumers to reduce their use of electricity, many Texans vividly remember February 2021, when millions of people were without power for days in freezing temperatures after a combination of cold weather across the state and exploding energy demands are shutting down power plants and the natural gas facilities that fuel them. Hundreds of people died.
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