Texans Urged to Save Energy as Extreme Heat Wave Hits State Grid

This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the climatic table collaboration.

Texans sweltering in record temperatures and high humidity have been urged to conserve energy as the power grid struggles to cope with a spike in demand.

An extreme heat wave in the southwestern and central US has brought scorching temperatures since Friday, with heat advisories for millions of Americans through at least the middle of the week.

In Texas, temperatures reached triple digits Fahrenheit over the weekend, with some places breaking century-old records. On Saturday, Waco reached 108 Fbreaking the high of 104 F set in 1917. On Sunday, more than a dozen record highs were set across the state as temperatures topped 110 F in central Texas.

As dangerous heat continued across much of the state, demand for electricity was expected to exceed supply Monday afternoon, with continued outages (coordinated shutdowns to protect essential services) deemed “possible” but “not likely.” , depending on the network operator. , Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (Ercot).

Neighbors have been urged turn up thermostats a degree or two and turn off unnecessary appliances to help reduce heat-related demand and mitigate drop in supply caused by unusually low winds.

According to Ercot, “The heat wave that has settled in Texas and much of the central United States is driving increased electricity use…Current projections show wind generation reaching less than 10 percent of its ability”.

Companies have also been urged to cut back. In response, most industrial-scale Bitcoin miners turned off their machines, which could help conserve enough energy to avoid rolling blackouts, as Texas’ cheap energy costs and loose regulation have made it one of the largest cryptocurrency mining centers in the world. according to Bloomberg.

Texans urged to save #energy as extreme #heat wave depletes the #PowerGrid. #ClimateCrisis #Texas #BitcoinMining

Excessive heat warnings remain in effect for south and central Texas through Wednesday, when temperatures are forecast to gradually drop a few degrees, with some thunderstorms and showers possible. Winds will pick up on Tuesday, which will help increase the power supply.

Ercot supplies power to about 26 million Texans, accounting for 90 percent of the state’s electricity load.

This isn’t the first time energy-intensive Texans have been urged to cut back. In MayErcot asked residents and businesses to conserve energy during a heat wave that coincided with six outages at power plants.

The company, and state Governor Greg Abbott, were widely criticized during a freezing winter storm in February 2021 that left millions without power and resulted in hundreds of deaths.

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for governor, took to Twitter to remind his followers of last winter’s deadly blackouts and blamed the latest crisis on Abbott, a Republican.

“The governor of the world’s ninth largest economy, the energy capital of the world, cannot guarantee that electricity will continue to work tomorrow. We need a change,” O’Rourke tweeted.

In June 2021, Abbott passed legislation to reform Ercot and “climate and improve the reliability of the state power grid”, though critics say it’s not going far enough or fast enough to tackle climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

Power grids around the world face tests this summer, as the climate crisis leads to prolonged heat waves and Russia’s war in Ukraine continues to reduce fossil fuel supplies. Renewable energy such as solar and wind power, of which Texas is a major generator, are also vulnerable to weather conditions.

“Climate resiliency is on the minds of the engineering and research communities,” said Le Xie, a professor and associate director of energy digitization at Texas A&M. Energy Institute. “It’s a challenging area of ​​research and development and we don’t know the best answers yet.”

Progress is likely to be tested in another record hot summer.

The current heat wave is due to a subtropical high-pressure belt, which has caused consistent high temperatures since early June with little or no relief, according to Andrew Quigley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Austin/San Antonio.

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