Last Wednesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued its second-highest energy emergency alert because of “low power reserves.”
The grid operator clarified that there were no controlled outages associated with this alert. According to The Dallas Morning News, grid conditions returned to normal a few hours later.
During the Conservation Appeal, ERCOT enacted emergency operations to access additional resources.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas stated that while ERCOT was not experiencing emergency conditions, the potential for such conditions persisted due to high temperatures, high demand, low wind, and declining solar power generation.
When operating reserves fall below 1,750 megawatts and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes, ERCOT issues an Energy Emergency Alert 2. The grid operator can decrease demand by temporarily cutting power to industrial customers who have agreed to have their electricity turned off during emergencies.
ERCOT had been continuously urging customers to conserve energy as the state’s power grid faced strain from the early September heat wave. Early evening was a particularly concerning time as solar power decreased and wind energy remained limited.
However, the emergency alert issued on Wednesday took the situation to a more critical level.
At 8:20 p.m., Texas energy prices surpassed $5,000 per megawatt-hour, over 20,000 % higher compared to earlier in the day. While demand never exceeded supply, committed capacity was only about 1,000 megawatts higher than demand at 7:30 p.m. The gap grew a short time later.
A warning for extreme heat was issued on Wednesday covering a large portion of North Texas, including Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin counties. The region experienced temperatures above 100 degrees for a full week. Hot conditions persisted until last weekend.
The heat wave provided a fitting conclusion to one of the hottest Texas summers on record. Texas’s average temperature between June and August was 85.3° F, the second-hottest in history (after 2011). San Antonio experienced a record 17 days above 105° F, almost six times more than the previous record of 3 days.