The operator of the state’s electricity grid is asking Texans to conserve power this weekend, after six generation plants went offline Friday amid unseasonably hot weather.
Thermostats should be set to 78 degrees or higher, and people should avoid “the usage of large appliances,” such as dishwashers, washers and dryers, from 3 pm to 8 pm through Sunday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said in a statement that was released shortly after 5 pm Friday.
“This afternoon, six power generation facilities tripped offline resulting in a loss of approximately 2,900 (megawatts) of electricity,” ERCOT interim CEO Brad Jones said in a statement. “At this time, all reserve generation resources available are operating.”
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Jones said unseasonably hot weather for May is triggering record electricity demand across the state.
Temperatures are expected to approach 100 degrees in some portions of Texas over the weekend. In the Austin area, temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to high-90s.
One megawatt of electricity is enough to power about 200 homes on a hot day. That means the 2,900 megawatts that went offline are enough to power about 580,000 homes.
In a posting earlier Friday on Twitter, Gov. Greg Abbott said he had met with officials who oversee the grid. “We continue to work closely to ensure Texas’ power grid remains reliable & meets the needs of Texans,” Abbott said in the tweet.
Abbott and other state leaders have been trying to shore up the state’s power grid, after its catastrophic failure during a severe winter freeze in February 2021. Extensive blackouts stemming from that disaster contributed to hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage.
Heading into last weekend, ERCOT asked power plants to postpone planned maintenance outages and to lift any outages in progress because of the hotter-than-normal May temperatures. At the time, however, it maintained that Texas would have enough electricity to meet the spike in demand.