Texas grid operator deploys emergency response service as reserves run low

(Reuters) – The Texas main grid operator said on Thursday it had engaged the emergency system after electricity reserves fell below a critical level of 3,000 megawatts due to increased power use amid a heat wave.

The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the grid for more than 26 million customers that use about 90% of the state’s power load, said it had operational reserves of 2,929 megawatts as of 8:37 p.m. CST.

Power use was expected to reach 87,083 megawatts on Friday, a new record high as demand surged over the summer.

Temperatures in Houston, the most populous city in Texas, reached 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) on Thursday, according to AccuWeather.

Severe weather in Texas has been in focus since a deadly storm in February 2021 left millions without electricity, water and heat for days as ERCOT struggled to avoid a grid collapse.

ERS helps reduce the potential for system-wide load shedding by paying eligible entities to make arrangements with residential, commercial and industrial participants to either reduce consumption or increase generation across the grid.

“ERCOT requires transmission operators to implement distribution voltage reduction measures if they are available,” it said in a notice.

ERCOT said it also expects lower energy reserves due to lower wind generation.

Real-time energy prices have risen to more than $5,000 at most ERCOT centers in Texas, according to the ERCOT website.

The grid operator earlier urged consumers to conserve power between 3 p.m. CST (2000 GMT) and 8 p.m. CST on Thursday as demand soared.

Discount Power, a unit of NRG Energy, the largest retail electricity provider in the United States, also required its Texas customers to provide electricity between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. CST.

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(Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad, Rahul Paswan, Harshit Verma and Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese, Paul Simao, Diane Craft and Miral Fahmy)

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