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After a tense few weeks with warnings of potential power shortages, Texas for the first time this year narrowly missed actual blackouts.
Late on Wednesday, ERCOT declared a grid emergency as the supply of electricity was barely on par with demand and risked falling short of it. A few hours later the danger of blackouts was averted.
“ERCOT entered emergency operations tonight due to a drop in both operating reserves and frequency. By entering EEA 2, ERCOT was able to utilize additional reserve resources to protect the reliability of the grid,” the grid operator of the Lone Star State said in an X post.
“No power outages associated with the ERCOT power grid were necessary. The Weather Watch remains in effect through Sept. 8 due to continued higher temperatures, high demand, and the potential for lower reserves. Thank you to Texas residents and businesses for your conservation efforts.”
Since the start of summer this year, ERCOT has had to ask Texans to conserve energy several times, as the state’s grid is under strain from a surge in the state’s population, higher demand during the hot months, and an energy mix with a considerably higher portion of weather-dependent wind and solar.
Summer is particularly tricky for wind power—high summer temperatures are normally accompanied by lower wind speeds, which significantly reduces the output of Texas’ massive installed wind capacity.
Because of this strain, the aging gas and coal power plants in the state had to work at capacity for weeks on end, which eventually began to affect their performance, contributing to the outage risks.
“It’s like if you were to get in your car and drive at 100 miles an hour in 120-degree heat for a month straight. You would probably have some issues with your engine because it's not really designed to do that. Plus, if that car is also a 1969 Chevelle, it's not going to do as well,” one University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute researcher told the Houston Chronicle.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.