Ercot Texas Power Grid Rolling Blackouts: The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is no stranger to headlines, especially when rolling blackouts are possible. With the increasing demand for power, especially during intense heatwaves, it’s crucial to understand ERCOT’s rolling blackouts, why they happen, and how you can prepare for them.
Understanding ERCOT’s Emergency Conditions
Before diving into the details, it’s essential to comprehend ERCOT’s emergency levels. At level one, ERCOT requests conservation from residents. The council advises residents to create a plan for rolling blackouts at level two. Level three is the stage at which rolling blackouts are implemented, and at this point, ERCOT suggests prioritizing health and safety by following city or county instructions and resources.
To date, ERCOT has implemented four rolling power outages, with the most recent one being the February Freeze in 2021 (Houston Chronicle).
Why Do Rolling Blackouts Happen?
Rolling blackouts are initiated when the predicted demand for power is greater than the supply. According to ERCOT, this practice is necessary for preserving the entire utility system, as demand overcoming supply can be hazardous for the grid (Houston Chronicle).
How Rolling Blackouts Work
ERCOT’s website mentions that rotating outages primarily affect residential neighborhoods and small businesses. These outages are typically limited to 10 to 45 minutes before being rotated to another location. Each transmission company takes responsibility for determining how to manage their share of the load on the system (Houston Chronicle).
Preparing for Summer vs. Winter Blackouts
The plan of action during a blackout may differ based on the season. In summer, the main priority is staying cool amid extreme heat conditions. Unplugging all devices when a blackout is announced is a good idea, as power surges when electricity returns could damage them. Non-electric sources of light like battery-operated flashlights, candles, or solar-powered lanterns should also be available (Popular Mechanics).
Stock Up on Essentials
During any season, it’s important to have non-perishable food items that don’t require cooking, as many homes have electric stoves that won’t function during a blackout. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend not opening the refrigerator or freezer during a blackout to keep the food inside cool. Food can last up to four hours in a refrigerator and up to 48 hours in a full freezer (CDC).
Communication and Alerts
Creating a plan for evacuation that provides cool temperatures, food, and water is crucial. Monitoring social media, emails, and texts for alerts from ERCOT and local utility providers will keep you updated on the state of the power grid (ERCOT).
Political Backlash and Ongoing Concerns
Governor Greg Abbott has faced criticism for failing to address the power grid’s vulnerabilities adequately (Newsweek). Texas’ lone grid means it cannot access power from other states even in emergencies, which has resulted in increasing public outcry for reform and connection to other grids (Newsweek).
Current Scenarios and Calls for Conservation
As of late August 2023, ERCOT asked Texans to conserve electricity for the fourth consecutive day due to intense heat, marking the sixth such request in 11 days (Texas Tribune). Extreme heat and low wind and solar power generation were contributing factors.
Understanding ERCOT’s role, the necessity for rolling blackouts, and how to prepare can make a significant difference in managing these situations. As the climate changes and power demands rise, staying informed and prepared is more crucial than ever.