By Andrew Nichols: EnerCom

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is an independent system operator that manages the flow of electric power to Texans and represents about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. Over the past couple of days, a large heat wave caused demand to nearly reach capacity in the afternoons when it is hottest. The heatwave caused power plants to unexpectedly go down and required repairs causing demand to nearly reach capacity and forcing people to go without power. The plants that are down have a combined capacity of 12,200 megawatts which could run about 2.4 million homes.  Officials are asking customers to try to conserve power throughout the day and only use it for necessities. An interesting note is the price cap for wholesale power is $2,000 per megawatt-hour which was reached in the afternoon of the 14th. This number could have been higher if it were not for the cap being lowered from $9,000 after Texas’ devastating winter storm in February 2021.

ERCOT reported that 75% of the power generation that was lost from the heat came from coal and gas plants. Renewable energy sources, such as wind power, were not affected as hard by the heat, but available solar power did not pick up the slack needed since only 20% of Texas power comes from renewable energy sources. Weather reports indicate the heatwave will be moving west towards California however, grid operators have stated they do not expect any blackouts. Nearly 45% of California’s power comes from renewables so it will be interesting to see how they fare against the heat since they have more backups if natural gas plants fail.

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