Texas Faces Threat of Blackouts After Grid Fails to Secure New Power Supply

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Power lines near Austin, Texas, US, on Friday, Aug. 25, 2023. Texas narrowly skirted a statewide power emergency yesterday after unexpected rain brought temporary relief from record heat, but despite Thursday's wet respite triple-digit temperatures are expected for days to come.

Texans are facing the threat of blackouts from severe storms this winter after the state’s grid failed to secure additional power supply to significantly reduce the risk.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or Ercot as the grid operator is known, only received 11.1 megawatts of offers from consumers who promised to curtail usage during tight conditions, according to a Friday statement. The grid operator was vying to procure up to 3,000 megawatts for this December through February, typically enough to power about 600,000 homes, according to an Oct. 2 notice. 

Dallas Morning News reported the news earlier Friday after an interview with Ercot Chief Executive Officer Pablo Vegas. 

Ercot had made the urgent appeal for spare electricity to avoid an “unacceptable” risk of a power emergency in extreme conditions. Regulators and lawmakers have rushed to find ways to bolster the state’s electricity system after the grid collapsed during a series of winter storms in 2021, killing hundreds of people as homes and businesses were left in the dark. The grid operator’s push to solicit seasonal capacity was unprecedented in a region that has long relied on market forces to procure supplies.

Demand is poised to climb to another winter record in a cold blast. Next January, Ercot sees a 21% probability of a grid emergency and an almost 17% chance of rolling blackouts if Texas sees extreme weather around 8 a.m. local time, which is seen as the riskiest hour.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

By Naureen S. Malik


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