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The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) called early on Monday for rotating outages across the state as extreme winter weather forced wind power generating units offline, while electricity demand set a new winter peak record.
ERCOT set a new winter peak demand record on Sunday evening, reaching 69,150 MW between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. This is more than 3,200 MW higher than the previous winter peak set back in January 2018, ERCOT said.
At the same time, the extreme winter weather and ice storms cut offline almost half of the wind power capacity in Texas.
“We are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units,” ERCOT said.
Wind power generation is the second-largest source of electricity in Texas, behind natural gas.
On Monday morning, rotating outages began across Texas, as ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said “Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now.”
Rotating outages are underway to reduce demand on the electric system, ERCOT said early on Monday, urging Texans to put safety first and warning that traffic lights and other infrastructure may be temporarily without power.
The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings for southern and southeast Texas, with major to extreme impacts possible from southeast Texas to northern portions of Ohio, as a massive winter storm lifts from the Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley.
Houston has prepared for below-freezing temperatures, and snow fell on Monday morning. Austin Energy, the City of Austin’s community-owned electric utility, said that the rotating power outages last longer than expected.
“The situation continues to worsen across TX and here in Austin. Austin Energy implemented required outages early Monday morning, doing our part to help stabilize the ERCOT grid. The required outages are more extensive than anyone expected and do not allow us to bring affected customers back online at this time,” Austin Energy said on Monday morning.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com