Texas May Face Another Wave Of Blackouts After Electric Grid Operator Reports ‘Forced Outage’ Concerns

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Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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The Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued a conservation alert Monday urging residents to reduce electricity use over “forced outage” concerns, a warning reminiscent of the deadly blackouts that gripped the state in February.

ERCOT noted more than 12,000 megawatts of generation capacity is unavailable after multiple generators reported forced outages, according to KUT. One megawatt of electricity can typically power about 200 homes on a summer day. The grid is facing additional pressure as many parts of the state expect temperatures to reach 100 degrees this week, driving up electricity demand.

The state’s electric grid operator urged Texans in a press release to conserve power by setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, unplugging any device not currently in use and avoiding using large appliances such as ovens, washing machines and dryers.

“We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service,” ERCOT vice president of grid planning and operations Woody Rickerson said in Monday’s press release. “This is unusual for this early in the summer season.”

The grid operator’s conservation alert has prompted concerns the state could face another round of mass power outages similar to February’s catastrophic blackouts that left millions without power for days, according to the Texas Tribune. The state recorded billions of dollars in damage and officials confirmed at least 151 deaths after temperatures plunged into the single digits. (RELATED: What Texas’ Blackout Crisis Says About America’s Energy Future)

Texas lawmakers approved two sweeping measures to change the state’s electric grid during this year’s legislative session, KHOU reported. The legislation included a mandate to “weatherize” power plants for extreme temperatures and introduced new mechanisms to avoid communication failures.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared at a signing ceremony last Tuesday that “everything that needed to be done was done” to fix the state’s electric grid. But some energy experts have said the legislative reforms do not go far enough to assure a catastrophe similar to the one in February won’t happen again, according to NPR.