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Texas generators offline for repairs, ERCOT urges conservation as temps rise

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 10:11 PM CDT
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(KXII) -The Electric Reliability Council of Texas says a large number of power plants across the state are currently offline for repairs.

In a statement Monday, ERCOT said the unexpected powerplant outages, coupled with record high electricity use has put significant strain on the state’s power grid.

“We are asking Texans to take simple steps to conserve energy while maintaining comfort,” said ERCOT Communications Manager Leslie Sopko.

Right now, only about 87% of power plants across the state are producing. Just over 12 percent of the state’s electrical capacity sits offline as demand is beginning to spike.

Warren Lasher, senior director of system planning for ERCOT, called the unplanned outages “very concerning” but says it’s the responsibility of the generator operators to make sure their plants are available for use when demand spikes.

“The plants that are offline are spread around the system,” Lasher said. “There are approximately 12 thousand megawatts total that are on outage. Of that, in the thermal fleet there are over 9 thousand megawatts of units on outage in the thermal fleet alone.”

The 9,600 megawatts of units on outage in the thermal fleet includes plants that burn coal, gas and fossil fuels.

“We saw some plants go offline Sunday, there were also plants that went offline for forced maintenance issues,” Lasher said. “These pants are being taken offline without any notice and without any control by the plant owner.”

Sopko suggests turning up thermostats a few degrees, turning off lights and limiting use of household appliances. But the request to conserve energy comes on the heels of the catastrophic power outages that gripped the state in February at the height of the winter storm.

ERCOT officials stopped short of calling this an energy emergency.

“Rotating outages, or controlled outages would occur in the last stage of an energy emergency alert,” Lasher said.

Lasher said there are a number of energy resources they have to consider “in order to understand what our resource fleet is going to look like for the rest of the week.”

“The conservative nature of our call for conservation is because it’s going to take us some time to start that evaluation plant by plant,” Lasher said. “Some time tomorrow we’ll have more information on when these plants will come back online.”

Lasher said as of now ERCOT has completed 20 plant visits and only four plants are on outage. Eleven more plant visits are scheduled ahead of the summer peak energy use season.

ERCOT said the demand for electricity could exceed 73,000 megawatts. The previous record was 69,100 megawatts back in 2018.

ERCOT suggests Texans can reduce their electricity use by keeping their thermostats at 78 degrees or higher, turning off lights and pool pumps, unplugging unused electrical appliances and avoiding use of large electrical appliances like washing machines, dryers and ovens.

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