Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Sure is a good thing the Lege fixed all those power grid problems

Otherwise, who knows what could happen?

Texas’ main power grid struggled to keep up with the demand for electricity Monday, prompting the operator to ask Texans to conserve power until Friday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said in a statement Monday that a significant number of unexpected power plant outages combined with expected record use of electricity due to hot weather has resulted in tight grid conditions. Approximately 12,000 megawatts of generation were offline Monday, or enough to power 2.4 million homes on a hot summer day.

ERCOT officials said the power plant outages were unexpected — and could not provide details as to what could be causing them.

“I don’t have any potential reasons [for the plant outages] that I can share at this time,” said Warren Lasher, ERCOT senior director of systems planning, during a Monday call with media. “It is not consistent with fleet performance that we have seen over the last few summers.”

The number of plants that were forced offline today is “very concerning” Lasher said.

“We operate the grid with the resources that we have available,” he said. “It’s the responsibility of the generators to make sure their plants are available when demand is high.”

How reassuring. I don’t have anything but snark and profanity to add, so let me point to the Chron story for more details.

CenterPoint, which manages electricity for power providers in Houston, said in a statement if it must cut power to maintain reliability of the grid it will be “done with the intent to rotate outages.”

It is not the first time since February’s freeze and statewide power outages that ERCOT has issued a conservation order. The grid manager did so on April 14, when temperatures were hotter than usual and power generators went offline to do routine maintenance ahead of skyrocketing demand that happens annually during Texas’ hot summers. However, that conservation alert only lasted for one day.

Ed Hirs, an energy fellow at the University of Houston, said he wasn’t surprised another alert was issued on Monday.

“This is not going to get better,” he said. “There will be more alerts this summer primarily because the weather pattern looks like it will be hotter than last summer, and ERCOT, with the new bills passed out of the Legislature, is duty bound to issue alerts.”


Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 3 into law, which mandates the weatherization of power plants; creates a statewide emergency alert system; improves communication among those in the industry; and designates some natural gas facilities as “critical” so their power can’t be turned off during crises.

However, Hirs said those actions fall short of what is needed to prevent these issues from happening.

“This was destined to fail because no one would invest in new capacity or at least not invest fast enough to keep pace with demand,” Hirs said. “There’s really no incentive to reinvest or maintain the grid for weatherization.”

But hey, you got permitless carry and a six-week abortion ban, and if those things don’t make you feel all cool inside, I don’t know what would. And because I don’t have any more words to add here, have some Internet humor.

Try to stay cool, y’all.

Related Posts:


  1. Lobo says:

    Your Governor: “Bottom line is that everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas.”

    Mission accomplished: Just chill! – We are not freezing.


  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Maybe the Austin mayor should be worried about why the black kids in his city are doing mass shootings. 13 people shot! Why no calls for gun control. Oh wait.shooters were black, doesn’t fit the narrative.

    With respect to the electric grid, the legislature JUST passed the relevant law. No one has had time to do anything about making the grid more secure. I also can’t figure out why people are complaining. They’re asking people to conserve energy. Isn’t that a core tenet of the greenie ‘save the planet’ folks? Conserve energy? So Texas is asking people to voluntarily conserve. Where is the problem here?

  3. Lobo says:


    The problem here is that electricity scarcity is the new profit center. The more scarcity, the higher the price for what’s (still) available and fed into the system.

    The industry has learned that it’s immensely profitable to cut back on generation, and let ERCOT play brinkmanship to avoid total grid collapse, because they can then exact and be paid a multiple for their diminished output. Simple math, really.


    Let’s say you can produce 500MW with your fleet of generating units and make $25.00 per MWh putting it into the grid under normal conditions. Just in time for the arrival of the forecasted heatwave, you then let half of that go off-line for mysterious “forced outage” reasons. (ERCOT doesn’t even require you to certify a technical reason. Maybe they’ll email you a questionnaire later, which you can send to Legal for handling.)

    So you put out only 250MB. And as long as others are following the same logic of maximizing profits and putting profits over the needs of people, the wholesale price goes from the average $25.00 per MWh to — let’s say — $500, so you make a multiple of what you would under normal operating conditions even though you only run at 50% of your capacity. The surge pricing (x20 in our example) is so lucrative that it doesn’t matter that 50% of your capacity is idled and generates no revenue at all.

    And why would you want to do anything to restore full 100% capacity as long as you make a multiple of your normal operating revenue by producing only half of what would be possible? If everybody did that, the elevated scarcity price would collapse and all producers would suffer.

    Any lessons learned from the February bonanza? – Yes, the industry can and will get away with profiteering from scarcity and attendant misery – whether frost-driven or manufactured or idiopathic — because Abbott and the Texas Legislature can be counted on to be on the industry’s side.

    And ERCOT will see to it that the grid doesn’t collapse; — with forced loadshed, if necessary. ERCOT, of course, can credibly say that is doesn’t run the generating plants, so ERCOT is just doing its job averting a catastrophic blackout and is not directly responsible for the production shortfall, or for any cartel machinations. By letting us sizzle in the sweltering summer heat — if it were to come to forced loadsheds — ERCOT would be doing us a favor. For, it could always be worse.

    That’s crony cartel capitalism at its best and at its most profitable.


    ERCOT said Monday that energy generator owners have reported about 11,000 MegaWatts of generation are on forced outage for repairs, including about 8,000 MW of thermal energy. That’s significantly higher than on a typical hot summer day, when the range of thermal generation outages is about 3,600 MW, the organization said.

    “We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service,” said ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson. “This is unusual for this early in the summer season.”

    SOURCE: Eric Levenson, Electric grid operator asks Texans to stop blasting AC as unplanned outages and heat collide CNN (June 15, 2021)

  4. Jason says:

    Lobo, that is an interesting take on it. Do you really think that it is possible for them to make that much money, basically selling 250 MWH for such a high price that is vastly more profitable than selling 500 MWH at a reasonable price?

    I would suggest that Texas having its own grid is perhaps not a great idea.

    Also, the grid needs to keep up with the times. Back in The Day, a house had one TV set, one refrigerator, a few lamps and lights. Now, you’ve got an electric world in the house. Computers, chargers, TVs, more than refrigerator, a chill box for your wine collection, you’ve even got to charge your Tesla, your cell phone needs to charge. People today need to blast their AC so that it is 63 degrees inside in the summer. In cold weather, they need to turn up the heat to tropical levels. Growing up, we didn’t have AC and the heat was frugal. Plus, now they want to turn life into a giant Zoom meeting, making everyone afraid to go out in person, there’s even more power. I wonder if anyone can say how much more demand there is for electricity this year, vs. two years ago? vs. 15 years ago? Compared to the 1960s? Can the grid keep up with that rising demand? Just thinking.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    Wolf is correct about what happened. We just don’t have the phone calls or emails to prove collusion amongst the power generators. We know the PUC gave them a huge windfall. Their bank accounts, and those of their families, should be monitored to see If they get paid off.