The update from the heads of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state grid manager, and the Public Utility Commission of Texas, its regulator, came after a weekend that saw ERCOT issue a statewide request to conserve power after several generation facilities went offline. The briefing also followed the release of ERCOT's seasonal summer projections for power demand and capacity throughout Texas forecasting electricity usage and supply could both reach record heights in the summer heat.
Despite the weekend energy conservation notice to all Texans, officials said the situation was a rare anomaly and that the grid proved it was able to handle the stress test. PUC Chair Peter Lake said the warning represented ERCOT being "proactive," rather than letting residents know too late that power issues could be at play.
“It wasn’t that we were in a dangerous situation at all. It was to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to keep the grid reliable," said Brad Jones, ERCOT's interim president and CEO, of the weekend notice.
The Texas grid's widespread, costly and deadly failure during Winter Storm Uri last year put the isolated system under intense scrutiny and spurred the passage of several pieces of state legislation aimed at overhauling the network. That broad process is still underway and, so far, is proving to be successful, according to Lake.
“The reforms are working. The lights are going to stay on this summer, and thank you for playing your part in ensuring grid reliability. We’re all part of this together," Lake said.
As changes to grid operations continue to roll out, regulators also noted the system appears ready to keep up with new residents and businesses arriving in Texas. ERCOT's summer resource report highlighted the state's economic growth as a contributor to a forecast for peak demand that could pass the previous seasonal record by several percentage points.
In the summer report, ERCOT stated it expects peak electricity demand this summer could reach 77,317 megawatts—more than 3% above the previous record set in 2019. To meet that demand, the grid operator said as much as 91,392 MW of resource capacity will be available across power suppliers, including natural gas, coal, solar, wind and nuclear facilities. According to ERCOT officials, 1 MW of electricity can power 200 homes on a hot day.
“This grid is more reliable than it has ever been, and we’re going to continue improving reliability," Lake said May 17.