Texas Calls for Power Conservation After Six Generators Fail

May 14, 2022 by Bloomberg

The Texas grid operator called on residents to conserve energy Friday after six generation facilities tripped offline amid hot weather, prompting power prices to spike.

The power-plant failures resulted in a loss of about 2,900 megawatts of electricity, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said in an email statement Friday. That’s enough power for about 580,000 homes and businesses. Natural-gas fired plants make up all of the generation that failed, an Ercot spokesman said.

The Texas grid is being stressed by high heat in a potential preview of peak summertime demand. This summer will test whether Ercot has made sufficient changes to reinforce a system that experienced cascading power-plant failures and deadly blackouts during a historic freeze in early 2021.

On Thursday, the Public Utility Commission of Texas expressed concern that generators haven’t had enough time to perform seasonal maintenance ahead of summer. The risk: summertime maintenance amid stronger heat can lead to supply shortages and potentially rolling blackouts.

The spring maintenance season typically ends in late May, but outages this year will likely slip into the first half of June, said Michele Richmond, executive director of Texas Competitive Power Advocates, a generator industry group.

Texas is already experiencing heat. The high in Houston on Friday reached 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33.3 degrees Celsius), six degrees above average, according to AccuWeather. Widespread heat is expected to intensify over the weekend and next week, according to Ercot. Highs of 95 to 105 degrees will be common next week, with places in West Texas reaching 110 degrees.

Houston spot power prices on Friday briefly jumped above the $5,000 a megawatt-hour price cap at about 5 p.m. local time with the rest of the grid topping $4,000, according to Ercot’s website.

Ercot’s call to conserve power extends between 3 pm and 8 pm local time through the weekend.

(Updates throughout starting with details of plant failures in second paragraph.)

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By Naureen S. Malik , Mark Chediak

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