With cities across the state experiencing record-high triple-digit temperatures, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas asked citizens to “voluntarily reduce electricity use.”

ERCOT issued a “Voluntary Conservation Notice” earlier this week, calling for Texans to monitor their electricity usage and use less power if safe to do so. The directive comes as citizens face a week-long heat wave, with some parts of the state reaching 116 degrees.

The notice also asked all government agencies, including city and county offices, to “implement programs to reduce energy use at their facilities.”

Although ERCOT said Texans should not expect disruptions to their electricity supply, the power grid has already surpassed its peak demand record this June.

ERCOT blamed the extra strain on extreme heat, record electricity demand, and thermal generation power plant outages. The organization also said that unreliable energy sources like wind and solar contribute to the grid’s instability. ERCOT highlighted solar energy’s declining power supply in the evenings and overnight and reported that wind turbines are not producing enough energy.

This recent warning comes after ERCOT declared a Weather Watch last week, lasting from June 15 to June 21, warning Texans that high temperatures may create higher demand on the power grid.

While ERCOT has promised that the power grid is on track to provide enough energy, some Texans hesitate to trust the controversial organization.

Historic Failings

Unreliable energy sources and ERCOT’s dependability came under fire in February 2021 after a winter storm blasted Texas.

As temperatures dipped below zero, ERCOT implemented rolling blackouts when the power grid struggled to keep up with the high-energy demand. For days, millions of Texans suffered through extreme weather conditions without electricity.

ERCOT shifted some blame to renewable energy sources, claiming more than half of the state’s wind turbines froze during the storm and failed to supply enough power.

Following the winter storm, Gov. Greg Abbott implored lawmakers to investigate and reform ERCOT, which led to the resignation of four board members and the firing of CEO Bill Magness.

However, ERCOT continued failing to produce enough energy for the state, with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation warning that Texas was at risk for a summer energy emergency last year.

Last summer, the organization issued a “conservation appeal” to citizens and businesses across the state. In the appeal, ERCOT urged Texans to raise their thermostat temperature and refrain from using large appliances. They also warned that low wind speeds and increased cloud coverage could severely limit energy collected from renewable resources like wind turbines and solar panels.

Summer Predictions

While Texans pay close attention to the power supplier, ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas promised that the organization would focus on keeping the grid reliable.

“ERCOT continues to monitor conditions closely and will deploy all available tools to manage the grid and will continue our reliability-first approach to operations, always prioritizing grid reliability,” said Vegas.

However, with the National Weather Service predicting several more days of triple-digit temperatures across the state, some Texans are left wondering if their primary energy source will hold through the scorching heat.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.