With colder weather drawing near, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking for an additional 3,000 megawatts before the 2023 to 2024 winter season.

The organization’s stakeholders received a Request for Proposal earlier this week in what ERCOT described as part of its “reliability-first approach to grid operations.”

ERCOT said the request for additional energy was due to increased energy load growth, recent extreme weather events, and recent and proposed retirements of dispatchable Generation Resources.

“Our request to procure capacity in advance of winter is part of our continued commitment to maintain grid reliability and resiliency,” said ERCOT President and CEO Pablo Vegas. “ERCOT is not projecting energy emergency conditions this winter season, but we want to be prepared and ensure all available tools are readily available if needed.”

However, ERCOT also said that its Monthly Outlook for Resource Adequacy report showed that if conditions during the 2023 to 2024 winter season were similar to those from last year, the “probability level of entering into emergency conditions would be higher than ERCOT’s acceptable elevated-risk threshold.”

Summer 2023

Some Texans have criticized ERCOT’s management of the power grid, which broke several all-time demand records and appeared to struggle throughout the summer.

Earlier this month, ERCOT warned citizens that the power grid had moved into “Emergency Operations” and encouraged them to conserve electricity in triple-digit temperatures.

ERCOT blamed the emergency situation on “continued high temperatures, high demand, low wind, and declining solar power generation.”

Shortly after the grid exited Emergency Operations, bitcoin mining company Riot Platforms said it earned $31.7 million in energy credits from ERCOT in one month in return for using less electricity during August’s heatwave.

Past Failings

Unreliable energy sources and ERCOT’s dependability also 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 meet the high energy demand. For days, millions of Texans suffered through extreme weather conditions without electricity.

ERCOT pointed towards unreliable 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.

In the summer of 2022, 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 unreliable resources like wind turbines and solar panels.

Katy Marshall

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