Texas grid operator warns over blackouts amidst record temperatures

The operator of Texas’s power grid has warned of the potential for rolling blackouts as record temperatures continue to bruise the state.

Temperatures across Texas hit records over the weekend, with 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.6 degrees Celsius) recorded at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport on 10 July, surpassing the record of 101 F set in 1909, according to the US National Weather Service (NWS), which has labelled the current heatwave “oppressive and dangerous”.

In the face of such extreme weather, the state faces a “potential reserve capacity shortage with no market solution available,” the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said on its website, adding an energy emergency alert that advised of the potential for rolling blackouts.

ERCOT, which oversees power to more than 26 million customers, had assured residents earlier this year that it had enough reserves to meet demand after millions of people suffered without power through a deep freeze in early 2021 for several days.

High or dangerous heat levels were forecast for much of the state for yesterday, with temperatures exceeding 100 F.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner advised police and fire chiefs in the nation’s fourth most populated city “to prepare in case the state’s power grid fails during extreme heat.”

The state’s grid operator has called for more power from suppliers and asked large industrial consumers to reduce their energy use.

Texas last called for energy conservation in May, during an earlier heat wave that saw prices soar.