TEXAS – The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages more than 26 million Texas customers’ electric power, issued a conservation alert Monday afternoon.
As temperatures rise during the summer heat, ERCOT is asking Texans to voluntarily conserve and reduce their electric use from Monday, June 14 through Friday, June 18. The conservation alert is due to a significant number of forced generation outages combined with potential record electric use for the month of June which has resulted in tight grid conditions, according to ERCOT.
ERCOT has issued a Conservation Alert, and Texans are being asked to safely reduce their electric use.— ERCOT (@ERCOT_ISO) June 14, 2021
“We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service,” said ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson. “This is unusual for this early in the summer season.”
According to generation owners, the number of outages should decrease throughout the week, ERCOT reports.
CenterPoint Energy says it is monitoring the situation closely and asking its customers to conserve electricity this week, particularly between 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., which is the forecasted peak time period for customer power usage.
“The power generation issue is expected to be at its peak from the afternoon to the evening hours for the remainder of the week,” said Kenny Mercado, CenterPoint Energy’s Executive Vice President, Electric Utility. “We are encouraging our customers across our electric service territory to help conserve electricity.”
ERCOT is asking Texans to take the following actions to help reduce electric use:
- Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher – every degree of cooling increases your energy use by six to eight percent.
- Turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dryers.
- If you don’t need something, ERCOT asks you to turn it off and unplug it if possible.
Click here to track the electricity demand or subscribe to the Emergency Alerts list on http://lists.ercot.com. For consumer assistance, call the Public Utility Commission of Texas Hotline at 1-888-782-8477.
CenterPoint says if conditions worsen, they may be issued a directive from ERCOT to curtail delivery of power to its customers, which will result to controlled power outages to help power the generation shortage. CenterPoint said Houston-area customers should prepare now and have a backup plan in place, especially those who rely on electricity for life-sustaining equipment.
Wholesale Market Prices Skyrocket
At 2 p.m. Monday, wholesale market prices on the power grid operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) were more than $1,000 per megawatt-hour. According to ERCOT data, prices are typically less than $50 per megawatt-hour. That’s a 1,900% increase. On Sunday at 3:47 p.m., the wholesale price was $1,727, and by 8:17 p.m. the price dropped to $35.63.
See recent trends in wholesale prices:
During the winter storm in February, wholesale market prices peaked at over $9,000 per megawatt-hour. Some energy customers participating in wholesale electric plans reported bills over $15,000.
The governor recently signed legislation banning residents from directly signing on with wholesale plans. However, power companies can still buy energy wholesale and supply it to retail customers. But, the retail customers are on fixed-rate plans. Therefore, the question remaining from the February freeze is - how do companies recoup money lost on the wholesale market, and can they still pass along a separate fee to customers?
What Are Wholesale Electricity Prices?
Wholesale electricity prices fluctuate based on demand. When there is less power available, but high demand for electricity, wholesale prices shoot up, said Joshua Rhodes, an energy research associate at the University of Texas.