AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is asking Texans to conserve power this weekend with unseasonably hot weather creating “record” demand, according to a release.

Friday afternoon, the six power plants that went offline resulted in the loss of 2,900 megawatts of electricity — enough to power about 580,000 homes.

“We’re asking Texans to conserve power when they can by setting their thermostats to 78-degrees or above and avoiding the usage of large appliances (such as dishwashers, washers and dryers) during peak hours between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. through the weekend,” the release said.

Local energy expert Scott Nguyen — an energy transition fellow at University of Texas-Austin and CEO of solar software company Bodhi — believes more forced outages could occur as the weather heats up.

“Our infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with the number of climate change extreme events and the number of people that are moving to Texas as well,” he said.

Nguyen also thinks the nonprofit is making these requests to ensure the demand for electricity doesn’t outstrip the supply. Otherwise, it could cause rolling blackouts statewide.

Texas A&M student Max Van Otterdyk is in Austin to visit friends and has some concerns about keeping the room temperature up.

“I always crank my A/C up, which I guess is bad now because I pretty much turn it up,” Van Otterdyk said. “That’s how I keep cool.”

An Austin resident named Anne plans to turn the temperature down at her apartment this weekend.

“We will bump it up to 72,” she said. “Maybe low 70s.

This marks the second energy emergency in our area in less than a week.

Last Saturday, approximately 3,600 Austin Energy customers in south Austin were left without power for four hours due to a heat-related demand surge and ongoing construction on a new substation.

Conservation alerts in the past

We scrubbed through ERCOT press releases dating back to 2012 to see how many times the agency has asked some or all of Texas to conserve energy. At least 13 instances came up:

  • June 2021
  • February 2021
  • August 2019
  • September 2019
  • October 2016
  • October 2015
  • August 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • October 2014
  • March 2014
  • February 2014
  • June 2012