The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a “Voluntary Conservation Notice” last week. The notice came after extreme temperatures were expected after issuing an ERCOT weather watch on August 12. State grid operators posted on X that “Texans are asked to voluntarily reduce electric use, if safe to do so.”
ERCOT’s website advises residents to raise the thermostat by a degree or two during summer, avoid using large appliances, turn off or unplug anything nonessential, and set pool pumps to run early in the morning or overnight. A voluntary notice is level three of four with an “Energy Emergency Alert.”
(1/2) TXANS Update—8/17/23: ERCOT has issued a Voluntary Conservation Notice for 3 – 8 p.m. today, Aug. 17, due to extreme temperatures, forecasted high demand, & lower reserves due to low wind generation. Texans are asked to voluntarily reduce electric use, if safe to do so. pic.twitter.com/nw93lbvaJ3
— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) August 17, 2023
Controlled outages may be required to compensate for low energy reserves. The organization says the notice is a “call for Texans to reduce energy usage during peak demand periods, where safe to do so.” It adds, “Conservation is a common tool used throughout the industry to support grid reliability.”
In June, ERCOT issued a similar notice. This request was due to the state’s first significant heatwave of 2023. Sources have suggested that wind power makes up 24% of the electricity production in Texas. It’s not the first time concern has brewed over the ability to generate enough energy to keep up with demand during peak periods.
ERCOT data revealed that electricity users in Texas had exceeded the record for power demand on the primary grid 10x just this summer. The state continues to grow with so many flocking from CA, and it also displays that extreme temperatures impact the state’s power system.
Texas has seen a significant increase in solar farms built in recent years, which has helped meet that rising demand. Texas also produces the most wind power of any state, but solar power drops as the sun sets. ERCOT also cited low wind power generation as a potential cause for concern.
UT Dallas’ Wind Energy Center Dr. Todd Griffith stated, “On days when the wind is a bit lower, we need to compensate for that with these other sources… namely, natural gas, coal sources, and nuclear.” Like solar and wind, nuclear energy emits almost no CO₂ emissions compared to fossil fuels like coal or gas.
On the other hand, nuclear power can constantly provide electricity to those who need it whenever they need it. That means it can still produce the necessary energy even when there is no wind outside. While nuclear power plants take a large initial investment, they feature low running costs and longevity.