With an early-season heat wave searing much of Texas over the weekend, the nonprofit that manages power to more than 26 million customers wants them to turn up their thermostats.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) made the appeal in a statement Friday, saying that soaring temperatures increased demand and caused six power generation facilities to trip offline. That resulted in the loss of about 2,900 megawatts of electricity.
“We’re asking Texans to conserve power when they can by setting their thermostats to 78-degrees or above and avoiding the usage of large appliances (such as dishwashers, washers and dryers) during peak hours between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. through the weekend,” interim CEO Brad Jones said in the statement.
The appeal comes as record temperatures across most of the southern US this weekend are expected to worsen a deepening drought.
From Phoenix to Amarillo, Texas, record temperatures are expected to reach triple digits, with a chance for some parts of Texas to break daily records over the next seven days.
ERCOT came under scrutiny last year after record cold temperatures in February caused the state’s highest electricity demand and more than 200 people died during the power crisis, with the most common cause of death being hypothermia.
In March 2021, ERCOT’s president and CEO, Bill Magness, was fired following widespread power outages during a series of winter storms that left many residents in the dark for days.
Now the heat is testing Texas’ power grid.
On Wednesday, ERCOT asked power plants to postpone outages and return from outages already in progress “to serve Texans this weekend.”
Temperatures Saturday were to be in the 90s across all of Texas – 10 to 15 degrees above average, according to CNN meteorologists. Temperatures from the mid-90s to the low 100s are expected on Sunday, with much of central and western Texas reaching 100 to 105 degrees – approximately 10 to 15 degrees above average.
ERCOT accounts for about 90% of the state’s electric load, according to a statement from the organization.
The unseasonably hot weather is driving record demand across the state, the statement said.