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Off the grid

High temperatures give way to more power grid concerns in Texas

Texas' main power grid operator urged residents to conserve power until Friday in hopes of preventing outages as widespread and severe as those in February, which "may have killed as many as 700 people," reports The Texas Tribune on Monday.

Approximately 11,000 megawatts of generation — enough to "power 2.4 million homes on a hot summer day" — went offline, as Texas' much-criticized main power grid "struggled to keep up with the demand for electricity," the Tribune reports. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas attributed tight grid conditions to a high number of power plant outages and an "expected record use of electricity due to hot weather."

The demand for electricity is driven by temperatures, said Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at University of Texas at Austin's Webber Energy Group, "and right now it is 99 degrees in Dallas, 97 degrees in Austin, and 97 degrees in Houston." And as residents begin to blast their air conditioning, a grid already damaged by outages in February seems unable to meet the moment.

ERCOT's Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson said the grid operator would look into the issue, but that "this is unusual for this early in the summer season." Asking the public to reduce electricity usage is the grid's first step in preventing blackouts.

ERCOT later said it is "unlikely" that Monday's issue will lead to rolling outages, but that energy conservation efforts should remain in effect through Friday, reports Dallas-Fort Worth's NBC 5

Read more at The Texas Tribune.