This blog post will no longer be updated. All further updates related to the record cold, power outages, and events of February 2021 will be found here.
Updated February 19:
ERCOT has now resumed normal operations.
Update February 18:
PUCT (Public Utility Commission of Texas) has issued an order that requires all TDUs in the ERCOT region “to rotate customers that are properly subject to curtailment under EEA3 in a manner that no such customer is subjected to an outage of more than 12 hours.”
Worded another way, if your electricity goes out because of a utility trying to reduce load (and not due to an accident, damaged equipment, etc), your utility should not keep your power off for more than 12 hours.
Update February 17:
Tens of thousands in Austin have been without power for 1-3 days — there are currently nearly 200,000 people without power in Austin. Austin Power has just released a statement saying that this may continue to be the case throughout the day, possibly even longer.
Update February 16 @ 7:21 PM CT:
Governor Abbot has called for the resignation of ERCOT’s leadership.
Update February 16 @ 3:52 PM CT:
The situation across the ERCOT territory remains dire. Utilities continue to be routinely asked by ERCOT to drop load (ie, turn off power to consumers) to ensure the stability of the overall grid.
Millions of Texans are still without power as we approach this evening where temperatures are expected to drop to around 0 degrees in many locations.
Update February 16 @ 11:49 AM CT:
With millions of Texans without power — some for more than a day — the Governor’s Office has just sent out a press release declaring that ERCOT reform will be an emergency item this legislative session.
In the press release, Governor Abbot stated:
“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” said Governor Abbott. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable. Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions. I thank my partners in the House and Senate for acting quickly on this challenge, and I will work with them to enhance Texas’ electric grid and ensure that our state never experiences power outages like this again.”
Update February 16 @ 9:02 AM CT:
ONCOR released a statement that states that ERCOT is “unable to predict when grid conditions might stabilize.”
Update February 15 @ 11:54 AM CT:
ONCOR announced that their original expected outage length of rolling blackouts (15-45 minutes) has been “significantly expanded.” Outages could “last for hours” according to ONCOR.
Update February 15 @ 9:16 AM CT:
Update February 15 @ 6:32 AM CT:
As warned late last week, ERCOT has had to begin conducting rotating power outages — outages are expected to last throughout the morning and may be needed again on Tuesday.
ERCOT is operating under an Energy Emergency Level 3.
ERCOT’s Emergency Alert Levels:
EEA Level 1
When operating reserves drop below 2,300 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes, grid operators can call on all available power supplies, including power from other grids, if available.
EEA Level 2
When operating reserves are less than 1,750 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes, ERCOT can reduce demand on the system by interrupting power from large industrial customers who have contractually agreed to have their electricity turned off during an emergency. ERCOT can also use demand response resources that have been procured to address tight operating conditions.
EEA Level 3
An EEA3 is declared if operating reserves cannot be maintained above 1,375 MW. If conditions do not improve, continue to deteriorate or operating reserves drop below 1,000 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes, ERCOT will order transmission companies to implement rotating outages.
Update February 13: 7:54 AM CT:
Many commercial energy providers have stopped accepting new signups/contracts with start dates through the end of February.
Update February 12 @ 1:24 PM CT:
Multiple providers have started to reach out to businesses this afternoon to ask them to assist in reducing energy consumption next week, particularly Monday/Tuesday mornings between 5 and 8 AM CT. Providers referenced ERCOT’s current demand forecasts with load expected to peak near 70,000-75,000 MWh both Monday and Tuesday.
This would be well beyond the all-time record of 66,068 MWh set Jan 17, 2018.
Original post made February 12, 2021:
A “generational” weather forecast with a prolonged period of extremely cold temperatures, snow, and ice is predicted to take place over the next several days. While most of Texas has been experiencing cold weather this past week, temperatures will continue to plummet over the weekend with heavy wintry precipitation blanketing much of the state.
Here are the current predicted lows Tuesday morning:
On Tuesday at 7 AM, most of the state will be sitting in the single digits, and some northern areas like Amarillo are predicted to be between 0 and -5 degrees. Even as it warms up throughout the day, most areas around the state won’t make it above freezing.
ERCOT — who manages about 90% of Texas’ electric load — has already warned of record-breaking energy consumption over the next few days due to the cold.
Why is this weather “event” such a big deal?
In Texas, this type of weather (and the duration of it) only occurs once every few decades. Homes, businesses, and energy providers “up north” may be familiar with and prepared for this type of weather, but it’s not a common occurrence for most Texans:
- It’s very rare to have days of continuous sub-freezing conditions — forecasters are expecting several days in a row where the temperature won’t reach above 32 degrees for most of Texas.
- Extremely cold temperatures are rare — even on the coldest days in most winters the lowest temps we’ll see are around 20 degrees.
- Texans have inefficient heating equipment. Since it doesn’t tend to get as cold, Texans use cheaper and less efficient heating methods such as radiant heat/strip heat. It uses a ton of electricity.
- We depend on electricity much more for our source of heat compared to the Northeastern use of heating oil, coal and natural gas.
What type of impact could this have on you?
ERCOT is predicting an all-time winter peak demand record — we will have less power to go around, essentially, pushing the grid and infrastructure to its limits. It’s important to prepare for some or all of the following:
- Increased short term pricing (supply and demand)
- Customers on a market based product
- Customers needing immediate start service
- Power outages due to demand. When there is high demand and not enough power to go around, decisions may have to be made to enact demand response programs and if that doesn’t help, systematic rolling brownouts and possible blackouts are set in place.
- Power outages due to mother nature. Power lines covered with snow and ice get heavy, increasing the chances they come down.
- Inability to get power turned on immediately, either due to demand or poor road conditions preventing crews from repairing down lines.
- Increased wait times when contacting a provider or utility.
Own or manage a business?
Our doors (and phone lines!) will be open next week. Whether you want us to assess your current energy costs and consumption or you need to get new service ASAP, call us at 1-800-974-3020:
- If you are on a market-based product, let us help you with a better long term purchasing strategy that protects you when the market is volatile.
- Curtail your power
- Damage control if you are already feeling the impact of increased rates on a variable plan. Reducing your consumption will directly affect your next month’s bill greatly.
- Reducing power consumption even though you are on a fixed price plan helps others on the grid allowing more power to be available for others to consume and hopefully prevent brownouts and blackouts.
Ultimately, we hope that everyone takes the necessary preparations to stay safe. Stay tuned to local weather services for updates and to this blog post for updated news on how the weather is impacting the energy industry.