Freezing temperatures brought down the power grid in Texas in early 2021, leading to resin shortages for months after the storm because chemical production sites had to close down due to the cold and power loss. In 2023, it's heat that is putting the power grid at risk.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) went into emergency operations on Sept. 6 for the first time since the winter storm of 2021. "Conservation is critical," the state agency noted in a news alert. Although it did not have rolling blackouts, ERCOT noted they "could become necessary if demand isn't lowered or additional supply cannot be added from generators."
Continued extreme heat — temperatures are expected to top 100° F every day through the weekend in Austin, Texas — and record demand for power were expected to continue pushing the power grid's capacity through at least Sept. 8.
The sizzling summer has already led to 10 all-time peak demand records for ERCOT. Tony Bennett, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Manufacturers, says industrial customers have been doing their part to adapt and keep the system operating.
"Industrial loads were called upon to shut down their operations and help stabilize the grid and they responded," he said in a statement. "Many reduced their usage voluntarily, while others were retained by ERCOT in advance to address this type of unexpected situation."