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Texans asked to conserve power for third straight day by ERCOT

The relentless heatwave continues to stress the grid but it's been able to handle the challenge so far.
Credit: KHOU

TEXAS, USA — For the third straight day, ERCOT is appealing to Texans to conserve power Saturday from 3 to 9 p.m. if they can do so safely.

"Operating reserves are expected to be low in the afternoon and evening due to low wind and potential low solar generation and high demand," ERCOT said in its Conservation Appeal.

While the grid is not currently experiencing emergency conditions, forecasts are showing a potential to enter emergency operations this evening because of expected low wind-power generation and high demand.

ERCOT said it avoided emergency operations Thursday thanks to the conservation efforts by Texas residents and businesses, combined with timely rainfall in the Houston area, improved wind conditions and additional grid reliability tools.

"The grid bent, but didn’t break,” Daniel Cohan with Rice University said. “It was a day when we had really tight conditions. It was extremely hot here in Houston.  We hit an all-time record of 109 degrees.  It was over 100 degrees in most of the state.”

Cohan said the state has added a lot of solar power capacity in recent years and that played a big part in avoiding the need for any rolling blackouts Thursday.

The Houston area did have tens of thousands of power outages Thursday, but they were caused by the strong thunderstorms that moved through some areas. 

ERCOT said it will continue to closely monitor conditions throughout the day and will keep the public informed.

RELATED: 'Bent, but didn't break' | The grid was put to the test Thursday, but kept the power on

What is an ERCOT Conservation Appeal?

An ERCOT Conservation Appeal is a request for Texans to reduce electrical usage, if safe to do so. Conservation is a widely used industry tool that can help the grid by lowering demand for a specific period of time, which is typically late afternoon into the evening hours in the summer. Conservation helps grid operators balance generation supply and customer demand.

Who should reduce their electric use?

ERCOT requests all Texans to reduce their electric use, if safe to do so, today, August 25, from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.

ERCOT also requests all government agencies (including city and county offices) to implement all programs to reduce energy use at their facilities.

How can I reduce my electrical use?

Energy-saving tips for residents and businesses can be found at www.ercot.com/txans.

CHECK THE GRID: Here's where you can check supply and demand

He also said the grid conditions could once again be tight on Friday, so it’s possible we’ll be asked to conserve again.

What happens when voluntary conservation isn't enough?

If conservation requests aren't enough, ERCOT may call for an Energy Emergency Alert. That has three different levels, with the first two designed to bring more generation to the grid.

The alert goes to Level 1 if operating reserves get below 2,300 MW and aren’t expected to recover for 30 minutes. If that happens, all available generation is brought online and any undeployed reserves are released.

Level 2 is reached if reserves drop below 1,750 MW and aren’t expected to recover within 30 minutes. If that happens, large industrial customers are paid to reduce power and more reserves are deployed.

Level 3 happens when operating reserves drop below 1,430 MW. Transmission companies are told to reduce their demand on electrical systems. It’s in Level 3 that rolling outages are possible. According to ERCOT, the outages are the last resort to prevent system-wide outages.

ERCOT has only ordered rolling outages four times.

  • December 22, 1989
  • April 17, 2006
  • February 2, 2011
  • February 15-18, 2021

If you rely on power for medical reasons, have a backup plan in place, whether battery backups or by generator.

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