I hope it’s a lot. It should be a lot.
With temperatures soaring statewide, Gov. Greg Abbott is scrambling to reassure Texans he’s closely monitoring the state’s shaky electric grid as other GOP officials vow to get back to work fixing a system many, including Abbott, declared they had repaired after deadly outages during last year’s winter storms.
An hour after high-level meetings with Abbott, the state’s electricity monitor warned the public that six power plants had failed, forcing the state to call on Texans to reduce air conditioning usage and watch their energy consumption through the weekend. Electric Reliability Council of Texas did not disclose which units had gone offline or when they’d be back up.
ERCOT data showed demand for power in Texas was projected to be within 2,000 megawatts of the total supply by mid-afternoon on Saturday, triggering the conservation alert. Typically the state has a much bigger cushion. When operating reserves drop below 1,750 megawatts for more than 30 minutes, ERCOT can interrupt power for large industrial customers and can call for rotating blackouts if reserves drop to 1,000 megawatts. A megawatt is about enough electricity to power 200 homes on a hot day.
Peak demand on the grid was expected between 5 and 6 p.m on Saturday.
Abbott, who said last June that lawmakers did “everything that needed to be done” for the grid, released a photo of himself on Friday, meeting with officials from ERCOT and the Public Utilities Commission in his office just over an hour before the conservation warning was sent out.
“We continue to work closely to ensure Texas’ power grid remains reliable & meets the needs of Texans,” Abbott said.
Democrat Beto O’Rourke has been blistering at rallies, reminding voters that more than 700 Texans died, by some estimates, when the grid failed in 2021 during the winter storms. Lawmakers had been repeatedly warned that the power grid needed reforms, but those warnings had largely been unheeded until millions of Texans were left without power during the record freezing temperatures last winter.
O’Rourke has been campaigning on forcing more weatherization requirements on energy providers and connecting the Texas grid to the national grid to ensure the state can tap into national emergency supplies when needed, something Republicans who control the Legislature have declined to do.
On Friday, he blasted Abbott for waiting until after 5 p.m. on Friday to make ERCOT put out their conservation alert, even though he had been meeting with them well before that.
“He doesn’t want Texans to know that he STILL can’t keep the power running in the energy capital of the world,” O’Rourke said on Friday after the ERCOT alert went out.
By the time you read this, the worst is likely to be over, and maybe there haven’t been any power outages resulting from the extra demand on the grid. But you know, it’s not even halfway through May yet. There will be more opportunities for us to be told to turn the A/C down as the temperatures creep up towards 100. Maybe if Greg Abbott had spent some of that federal COVID relief money on fixing the grid instead of having the National Guard write jaywalking tickets we’d be better off now.
Here are some tweets to sum it up:
Wholesale electricity prices have been super high most of the afternoon, as power has become increasingly scarce.
— Matt Largey (@mattlargey) 5:18 PM – 13 May 2021
Priorities: While your governor was throwing a tantrum about brown babies getting the food they need electric plants were failing, leading to a call for energy conservation across Texas.
— Scott Braddock (@scottbraddock) 6:15 PM – 13 May 2021
30 years of iron-fist Republican rule in Texas, and the best they can do is: “please set your AC to 78.”
— Gene Wu (@GeneForTexas) 11:11 AM – 14 May 2021
— Nathan Ryan (@nthnryn) 5:02 PM – 14 June 2021
The classics always have something to say to us.