On Thursday evening, the Biden administration’s Department of Energy declared an energy emergency in Texas in order to avoid rolling blackouts due to an “extreme heat event,” according to the department.
The emergency declaration granted the Electric Reliability Council of Texas authority to temporarily exceed state emissions limits to generate enough energy to avoid power outages.
ERCOT, whose service covers 90% of customers in Texas, filed a Conservation Appeal on Thursday morning in anticipation of low operating reserves “due to continued high temperatures, high demand, low wind, & declining solar power generation.”
“We request Texas businesses & residents conserve electricity use, if safe to do so,” ERCOT posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday.
ERCOT told the DOE that a “heat wave” had resulted in “abnormally high electric demand.”
“Temperatures on September 7, 2023, are expected to reach 107 degrees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 105 degrees in the Houston area, 103 degrees in the San Antonio area, and 105 degrees in the Austin area, while temperatures on September 8, 2023, are expected to reach 108, 106, 107, and 105 degrees in these same areas, respectively. These high temperatures are driving record demands for this time of year,” ERCOT reported to the DOE.
At 7:25 p.m. on Wednesday, ERCOT declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 2, indicating that operating reserves dropped below 2,300 megawatts, the Houston Chronicle reported.
ERCOT has not declared a level two emergency since Winter Storm Uri in 2021. When operating reserves have dropped below 1,000 megawatts and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes, ERCOT could implement rolling outages as a last resort.
The corporation urged Texans to conserve energy to avoid overloading the grid. The Texas Tribune reported that ERCOT has asked residents to conserve energy at least 10 times this summer.
DOE granted ERCOT’s request for an emergency order on Thursday, allowing it to exceed air pollutant permitting limits.
“The emergency nature of the expected load stress caused by the current extreme heat event threatens to cause loss of power to homes and local businesses in the areas that may be affected by curtailments, presenting a risk to public health and safety,” the DOE stated.
ERCOT’s Conservation Appeal ended Thursday night after managing to avoid rolling blackouts and after the energy load normalized.
“Thank you to Texas residents and businesses for your conservation efforts, which along with improved wind conditions and additional reliability tools, helped us get through another tight peak time,” ERCOT said.
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