The state of Texas continues to reel under a deep freeze, leaving utilities scrambling to meet record power demand and forcing the state’s grid operator to enforce rotating blackouts early on Monday.
President Joe Biden approved the state’s emergency declaration, unlocking federal assistance to tackle the rare deep freeze.
Apart from Texas, much of the United States from the Pacific Northwest through the Great Plains and into the mid-Atlantic states has been in the grip of bone-chilling weather over the weekend, featuring snow, sleet and freezing rain.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has sought to cut power use in response to winter record of 69,150 MW on Sunday evening, more than 3,200 MW higher than the previous winter peak in January 2018.
Just in: ERCOT has declared the highest level of energy emergency in Texas. Rolling outages of 15 to 45 minutes have begun. https://t.co/aG8RZal3VD
— WFAA (@wfaa) February 15, 2021
Reserves have dropped below 1,000 MW and transmission companies have been ordered to reduce demand on system, ERCOT said.
“Traffic lights and other infrastructure may be temporarily without power,” the agency said on Twitter.
A level three emergency notice was issued by the regulator, urging customers to limit power usage and prevent an uncontrolled system-wide outage.
As a result the spot price of wholesale electricity on the Texas power grid spiked more than 10,000% on Monday amid a deep freeze across the state and rolling outages among power producers, according to data on the grid operator’s website.
Real-time wholesale market prices on the power grid operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) have climbed as high as $11,000 per megawatt, according to ERCOT. A typical price on the grid, which supplies most of the electricity for Texas, is less than $100 per megawatt.
The surge reflects the real-time price of electricity and the cost of congestion and losses at different points across the grid. Early on Monday, ERCOT said extreme weather conditions forced many power generating units off the grid, upending the supply of electricity.
ERCOT did not respond to an email message about the spike in wholesale electricity prices.
CONSERVE POWER NOW: Rotating power outages underway as energy conservation becomes critical in winter stormhttps://t.co/S4Cup3a4DA
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) February 15, 2021
🥶🔌TEXAS ENERGY CHAOS🥶🔌Texans are waking up to power blackouts for millions of households due to an unprecedented Arctic freeze. Oil ouput in the Permian basin is down 1m b/d. Electricity and natural gas prices are sky high | #OOTT #TexasFreeze https://t.co/TKTuE2X7Sr
— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) February 15, 2021
Reuters contributed to this report.
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