AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas’ power grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), is confident there’s enough reserve power on hand to get Texans through the state’s latest bout with cold weather as an arctic front pushes through Wednesday.
ERCOT interim CEO Brad Jones said the state has 15,000 megawatts of power on reserve to use as needed. That’s enough to power around 11 million homes.
ERCOT said there could be “tight grid conditions” through Friday with this cold snap. It’s the largest 24-hour temperature swing ever in recorded Austin history from Tuesday’s high temperature of 88 degrees to 34 degrees recorded Wednesday morning.
As of Thursday morning, the power grid is operating at normal conditions, according to the ERCOT website.
Impacts to roads around Austin are expected to be minimal since Tuesday’s warm day helped raise the ground temperature. The Texas Department of Transportation also treated roads with brine to keep ice off the roads. It could be a different story in the Hill Country, however, as a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect where ice could build up.
Here’s how you can monitor Texas’ overall power grid health online using ERCOT’s grid and market conditions tools.
This dashboard allows you to look at operating reserves. ERCOT says the grid conditions meter shows the current state of the grid as well as the amount of operating reserves at the time. The meter is color-coded to show if the grid is being strained and when conservation is requested from the public. Below are the different stages, according to the ERCOT website:
- Green: The grid is operating under normal conditions.
- Yellow: Energy conservation is requested.
- Orange (Energy Emergency Level 1): Emergency operations have begun due to low power reserves, but there are no controlled outages at this time. Energy conservation is requested.
- Red (Energy Emergency Level 2): The emergency level has been raised due to continued low power reserves. Energy conservation is requested. It is advised to create a plan in case controlled outages are needed later. Those with critical medical needs should register with their local utility and have a backup plan.
- Black (Energy Emergency Level 3): The highest level of emergency operations. Local electric utilities have been instructed to begin controlled outages. Health and safety should be made a priority by using city or county instructions and resources. Energy conservation is critical.
Supply and Demand
This dashboard shows the power grid’s current power supply and demand in real time. The graph also shows projected power supply and demand from hourly forecasts, which can be found here.
There are three different data sets represented on the graph:
- Committed Capacity (solid purple line): This shows historical committed capacity or the amount of power that was available from online generating units, according to ERCOT’s website.
- Demand (turquoise line): This shows the historical system demand or the amount of power used. A dotted turquoise line is used to represent the expected future demand.
- Quick start capacity (shaded purple area): This shows capacity that can be provided by generating units that can come online within 10 minutes of getting a notice from ERCOT.