The Department of Energy (DOE) declared a power emergency in Texas on Thursday night amid a period of elevated demand.
The DOE’s order declaring an emergency allows the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s grid operator, to disregard particular pollution standards in order to generate enough power, and the order will remain in effect until 9 p.m Friday, local time. The declaration follows elevated temperatures in the region that have driven electricity demand high enough to push the ERCOT grid to its limit.
“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 order states. (RELATED: Winter Storm Causes Frozen Turbines, Massive Blackouts In Texas)
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ERCOT narrowly avoided rolling blackouts Wednesday night as similar spikes in demand similarly strained the grid, according to The Texas Tribune. The grid operator asked customers to conserve energy and went into emergency operations mode Wednesday night, but the DOE did not declare an emergency at that time.
“The ERCOT region is currently experiencing a sustained heat wave that is resulting in abnormally high electric demand,” the order states. “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 serves about 90% of Texas’ customers, according to its website.
The White House, DOE and ERCOT all did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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