Mayor Warns of Possible Rolling Blackouts This Evening

Grid strained with demand, unexpected production outages

[Editor’s update, 9:37pm: A little after 9pm the city of Austin relayed ERCOT’s message that the call for energy conservation had ended. The city’s statement also warned that ERCOT predicted similar grid conditions to continue tomorrow and to watch for additional information.]

Today marks the seventh call from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for power conservation this month. This evening, Mayor Kirk Watson issued a statement warning that there could be emergency rolling blackouts tonight. Watson made clear that ERCOT was not experiencing emergency conditions as of 7:40pm but said in the release, “we want people to know about this possibility.”

The grid is stressed primarily due to extremely low levels of thermal generation (gas, coal, and nuclear power) and low wind generation. ERCOT has a tiered alert system, but may initiate rolling blackouts – which typically last up to 40 minutes before rotating to a different location – at any level at any time. “While the recent conservation appeals may appear repetitive, they are a critical tool ERCOT has to manage the grid and must be taken seriously,” said Watson. However, demand as of 8pm was lower than projections, so we may be in the clear.

The city is urging Austin residents and businesses to safely reduce energy use today until 9pm.

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