Texas’ risk of power grid emergency, blackouts to rise in August, operator says

June 13, 2024

Texas energy customers are at an increased risk of experiencing rolling power blackouts later this summer, according to a report released last week by the state’s grid operator.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas broke the news in its Monthly Outlook for Resource Adequacy for August, predicting a 12% chance of energy reserves falling below 1,500 megawatts, which could trigger rolling blackouts to prevent total grid collapse.

The report also predicted a 16% chance of Texas experiencing a grid emergency.

ERCOT projected a statewide energy demand of 78,000 megawatts in August, nearing the state’s projected supply of 83,000 megawatts. The energy demand exceeds the demand for 69,000 megawatts that contributed to the statewide power outage caused by Winter Storm Uri in 2021 that killed more than 240 people.

The rolling blackouts estimate is higher around the end of sundown hours when the grid is most stressed, from 8 to 9 p.m. ERCOT said. It expects a 16% chance of emergency during that time period in August.

The risk rises during that time period because at sunset, power from solar energy drops off.

Texas is the only state in the contiguous 48 states with its own power grid, though parts of the Pandhandle, East Texas and El Paso are served by neighboring grids.

Summer months leading up to August are expected to not have issues, with a 1% chance of emergency operations in June and a 4.8% chance in July, ERCOT said.

Energy leaders testified in a Texas House State Affairs Committee meeting on Monday about growth forecasts and the summer outlook.

William Baule — a research professor and representative of Texas’s state climatologist — said the risk of extreme heat would remain elevated throughout the summer and would not get a break thanks to hurricane season.

“The next threat to the power grid to consider is hurricanes,” Baule said. “All seasonal forecasts this year (are) calling for an active hurricane season, because (factors) are favorable.”

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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