AUSTIN (Nexstar) — On Monday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas asked Texans to conserve power voluntarily between the hours of 2-8 p.m.
This is considered a conservation appeal, meaning it’s voluntary, and the grid has not yet reached emergency alert levels.
This comes as the state just broke the record for demand on our grid Friday, reaching 78,204 megawatts. According to ERCOT’s energy supply and demand tracker, demand peaked Monday at 78,379 MW. While that’s unofficial, once it’s verified by ERCOT it will be a new record for demand.
Additionally, that new record is already above what ERCOT projected would be our new peak at the beginning of the summer, which was estimated to be around 77,300 MW.
“We’ve already hit [about] 79,000. And looks like we’re pretty close on our way to 80,000, if not more, and it’s only July,” Joshua Rhodes with the University of Texas’ Energy Institute said Monday.
That’s concerning some experts, who point to the fact that ERCOT relies on historical data for its seasonal outlooks.
“The problem with that is that the future is not the same as the past because we’re living in a world of climate change,” Andrew Dessler, an atmospheric sciences professor at Texas A&M, said Monday.
He and his graduate student started analyzing ERCOT’s methods after the February freeze in 2021.
“We all lived through the blackout, it was really incredibly miserable. And I came out of that. And I sort of thought, you know, what’s going on with the power grid?” Dessler said.
“I quickly realized it was gonna be a big problem in the summer because climate change is making summers more extreme,” Dessler explained.
Dessler then started creating his own projections, which take climate change into account.
He said their model was similar to ERCOT’s baseline projection of around 77,000 MW (or 77 GW) for a peak this summer, but their extreme scenarios are very different.
“Their extreme scenario is more like 81 or 82 gigawatts. And we find that that’s not nearly extreme enough that we see a reasonable chance of demand in the mid-80s, 85 to 86 gigawatts. And if that happens, then energy supply is going to be very, very tight. And it’s possible, there won’t be enough supply for demand,” he continued.
He’s hoping the grid operators consider incorporating climate change into their analyses in the future.
“This is not politics. This is not a turf battle. You know, we’re trying to maintain the power supply for Texans who rely on it,” Dessler said.