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Angry Texans lash out at ERCOT after residents asked to reduce electric use amid heatwave outages

·3-min read
Angry Texans lash out at ERCOT after residents asked to reduce electric use amid heatwave outages
The electric power grid manager for most of Texas has issued its first conservation alert of the summer, calling on users to dial back energy consumption to avert an emergency (AP)
The electric power grid manager for most of Texas has issued its first conservation alert of the summer, calling on users to dial back energy consumption to avert an emergency (AP)

Angry Texans are hitting out at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) after the agency asked residents to reduce their electric use amid a heatwave in the state.

The organisation, which operates Texas’ electrical grid, warned that oncoming days of heat with temperatures reaching over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32°C) could strain the supply.

“A significant number of forced generator outages combined with potential record electric use for the month of June has resulted in tight grid conditions,” ERCOT said in a release.

Residents were quick to vent their frustrations under an announcement of the power issues on Twitter, with many pointing out that the company has once again failed to rectify issues with the grid.

“This makes no sense whatsoever. It’s summer in Texas. It comes every year. It’s always this hot. And it will get hotter, as always. Why is this suddenly a problem??” one person asked.

Others echoed the same sentiment, with one user posting: “How is this Texas summer different then [sic] any other summer, and why is this an issue now?”

Some criticised the government for continuing to run its own independent grid that operates outside of a federal or regional system.

“I lived in Texas my whole life. I have never heard of issues like this or seen it get this bad. Join the national grid or fix this s***,” one angry poster said.

“Can we just join the national grid? Clearly Texas can’t do this by themselves,” another said, while one user summed their thoughts up by saying: “This is a disaster. Get your crap together”.

“Gee, that whole ‘we don’t want to be part of the national grid because we don’t want to be subject to federal mandates’ is certainly not looking like a great strategy these days,” another said.

ERCOT vice president of grid planning and operations Woody Rickerson said in a statement that the company will be conducting a thorough analysis with generator owners to determine why so many units are out of service.”

He added: “This is unusual for this early in the summer season.”

In February ERCOT similarly came under fire amid days of deadly blackouts during severe freezing temperatures in the state which left millions of customers without electricity and heat.

The company was forced to implement the blackouts to ease the strain on electrical grids buckling under high demand.

Critics said that the freezing temperatures had revealed weaknesses in the state’s system when confronted with inclement weather.

Parts of Texas are expected to see the temperature cross 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees Celsius) in the week before the official start of summer on 20 June.

Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData, a provider of commodities data and analytics, told Reuters the grid was “supposed to have enough reserves to meet peak demand this summer”.

“Yet here we are in mid June with the first bout of high temperatures and they are already seeking conservation," he said. "It does not bode well for the months ahead.”

ERCOT has asked residents to turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dryers in a bid to relieve the grid.

They also advised residents to set their “thermostat to 78 degrees or higher” warning that “every degree of cooling increases your energy use by six to eight percent”.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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