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Texas Faces Another Day of High Heat, Straining Power Grid

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- The Texas power grid operator is asking homes and businesses to conserve energy this weekend as high heat drives up demand for electricity.

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Temperatures in Dallas are forecast to hit 96 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius) Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Houston will be 92 degrees. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the state’s grid, made the request for conservation on Friday night, after several natural-gas fired power plants failed.

Five of the six plants that tripped offline are back online, an Ercot statement said on Saturday. The grid operator says it sees sufficient supply to meet the high demand.

The strain on the grid is a potential preview of what Texas could face in the months ahead. This summer will test whether the grid operator has made sufficient changes to reinforce a system that experienced cascading power-plant failures and deadly blackouts during a historic freeze in early 2021.

The six plants that went down have a combined capacity to produce 2,900 megawatts of electricity, enough for about 580,000 homes, and 2,300 megawatts are back in service, an Ercot spokesman said.

On Thursday, the Public Utility Commission of Texas expressed concern that generators haven’t had enough time to perform seasonal maintenance ahead of summer. The risk: summertime maintenance amid stronger heat can lead to supply shortages and potentially rolling blackouts.

The spring maintenance season typically ends in late May, but outages this year will likely slip into the first half of June, said Michele Richmond, executive director of Texas Competitive Power Advocates, a generator industry group.

Wholesale power prices in Houston on Friday briefly jumped above the $5,000 a megawatt-hour price cap at about 5 p.m. local time with the rest of the grid topping $4,000, according to Ercot’s website.

Ercot’s call to conserve power extends between 3 pm and 8 pm local time through the weekend.

(Updates with 2300 megawatts back in service.)

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