AUSTIN (KXAN) — With Austin and other major Texas cities bracing for another scorching weekend of triple-digit heat, KXAN checked in with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to see if the state’s electric grid operator is ready.
“ERCOT continues to project sufficient generation to meet forecasted demand at this time,” read a statement provided late Friday morning.
As Texans cranked the air conditioning this week, Monday saw a new June record for power demand at 72,386 megawatts (MW), according to unofficial ERCOT data.
The benchmark was broken the next day, with demand reaching 72,785 MW on Tuesday. The previous June record was 70,257 MW, set in 2021.
Friday was expected to go well beyond the June record again, with a forecast demand of close to 74,000 MW.
Earlier in the week, ERCOT issued an Operating Condition Notice (OCN) for Friday through Monday.
“The OCN is simply a heads up to transmission and distribution owners and generation resources that the temperatures have met our criteria of 103 degrees or higher,” a statement read.
According to ERCOT’s Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for summer 2022, the region “is expected to have sufficient installed generating capacity” to serve peak power demands from June through September.
The council said due to growth across Texas, it expects peak demand to hit 77,317 MW, a new system-wide record.
ERCOT anticipates there will be 91,392 MW of power generation available during those peak hours, creating a buffer of roughly 14,000 MW.
Austin Energy told KXAN it feels prepared for this weekend’s heat. Its newest substation came online Friday in the Bluff Springs area.
The utility said the new station should prevent a repeat of a Mother’s Day weekend power outage that affected thousands in Southeast Austin.
Austin Energy said the issue was the result of equipment failure at the Slaughter Lane substation, not the unexpected heat that struck that holiday weekend.
“We don’t just arbitrarily cut power because of a surge in demand,” said Matt Mitchell with Austin Energy. “That’s very much an emergency situation that ERCOT controls.”
Following recent outages in the Round Rock area, a spokesperson for Oncor Electric told KXAN the same thing — they only purposely cut power when ERCOT tells them to.
The last time that happened was during the February 2021 winter freeze. Mitchell said in those exceptional cases, which customers see their power turned off and for how long is up to the individual local providers.
“The goal is always to roll those through to different customers,” he said.