Texas’ electric grid was in a state of emergency nearly every day last week as high temperatures and multiple power plant outages pushed stretched resources thin. Thursday almost saw the state initiate rolling blackouts for the second time this year but just the fourth time in 21 years.
This week will also be tough, with prediction of a continuation of the brutal heat throughout Texas.
But the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said with temperatures expected to be lower by 1 or 2 degrees, and companies having spent the weekend doing needed repairs, the state should be able to avoid nail-bitting afternoons.
In a conference call with reporters, ERCOT CEO Tripp Doggett said he didnt expect Texas to set a new peak demand record this week nor did he predict a power emergency — assuming power plants don’t have an excessive number of unplanned outages.
“But we’re far from out of the woods,” Doggett said. “There’s no real end in site for 100 degree days. We expect to see them last for at least another 14 days out. Don’t want to let our guard town if things turn warmer.”
The number of unplanned outages last week among power plants was on the high side, reaching 5,000 megawatts of capacity, or more than 7 percent of the total fleet.
Power plant operators say it’s not unusual to have some units break down or run at less-than-full capacity due to equipment problems during the peak summer months.
On Monday about 3,000 megawatts of capacity was offline due to unplanned maintenance.
ERCOT isn’t the only power grid facign challeges with the heat. The Southwest Power Pool to our East hit records last week. The PJM interconnect that serve much of the East Coast hit their peaks in late July.
Power plants usually use the weekends, when demand is lower, to take key units offline for maintenance, but demand hasn’t dropped as much as hoped for over the weekends.
This past Saturday and Sunday, peak demand hit 63,300 megawatts and 62,600 megawatts respectively. Doggett said he doesn’t remember weekend demand ever reaching that high in his years on the job.
About 2,000 megawatts of capacity was able to go offline for repairs, however.