Why is ERCOT asking us to conserve electricity? Here’s what we know

Tips on how to prevent the power grid from getting overwhelmed

HOUSTON – ERCOT admitted the majority of lost reserve electricity generation on Monday was due to unscheduled maintenance issues.

ERCOT said 9,691 megawatts of the total loss on Monday was due to a forced outage, meaning it was unplanned and unexpected.

“The number of power plants that were offline for outages was a bit concerning given where we are and the temperatures,” Dr. Joshua Rhodes, a research assistant who studies the Texas Electrical Grid at the University of Austin, said.

Rhodes characterized the issue as a “yellow light,” not yet an emergency, but a potential problem if these power generation issues are not rectified before the hottest days of summer arrives.

Tuesday, KPRC 2 Investigates phoned into an ERCOT conference call that is not designed for media participation but is a public meeting.

A member of the meeting appeared to point out that closed meetings, akin to executive sessions, might be more beneficial to the organization.

“Yeah, I was going to eject them,” the identified meeting member said after noticing KPRC 2 was on the call.

“If we do close sessions, we would not post the meeting info,” the member said during the meeting.

KPRC 2 Investigates was not able to able to ask any questions during the call.

On Tuesday, Mayor Tuner criticized the EROCT situation.

”What’s happening right now is, companies and ERCOT can’t really explain why companies are taking their facilities offline. Is it for maintenance? Was it scheduled maintenance? Those are problems that should’ve been addressed,” Turner said.

Here’s what you can do to conserve energy

Houston has been under a heat advisory as temperatures this week climbed into the 90s.

It comes at a time when ERCOT is asking Texans to conserve energy and keep their thermostats at 78 degrees this week from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. to avoid overwhelming the power grid. ERCOT’s recommended temperature for your thermostat is 78 degrees.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s crazy. There’s no way,” said Kimberly Pate of Houston. “I have five kids and us staying at 78 degrees in a small house is just crazy.”

Francisco Sanchez, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator for Harris County, said running fans instead of the air conditioning unit below 78 degrees could prevent the power grid from getting overwhelmed.

“You can turn on your fans,” Sanchez said. “Fans, for example, will help cool down your house without consuming as much electricity. For every degree in your air conditioning unit that can increase your consumption by six to eight percent.”

Sanchez said if the power were to go out as I did last February, CenterPoint Energy assured him it would be rolling outages.

Dr. Annamaria Macaluso Davidson with Memorial Hermann Medical Group said fan, loose clothing, and staying hydrated can help families create a cooling station at home.

“If someone gets too hot, they’re overheated, maybe the power cuts out and we’re just trying to stay cool, getting a washcloth and having that cold water on there,” she said. “Even just room temperature, depending on how hot it is, it can feel really cold.”

On Tuesday, George Beunik, who is the director of Public Safety and Homeland Security for the City of Houston, encouraged the public to sign up for alerts at AlertHouston.org. Beunik said the Office of Emergency Management will push out individual emergency messages about major weather events.

Cooling centers in the city of Houston and Harris County have not yet opened. Officials said back-to-back days of high heat indexes are needed to declare a heat emergency.

Here's what Texans who are asked to conserve energy needs to do