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Texas residents asked to conserve energy by ERCOT amid heat wave


(WASHINGTON) — The Texas corporation that operates the state’s electric grid, and is being held responsible for the winter blackouts that killed more than 100 people, is asking residents to conserve energy for the rest of the week amid the heat wave.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) announced Monday that tight grid conditions have resulted due to a “significant number of forced generation outages” as well as the potential for record power use in the month of June due to the summer heat.

Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid to high 90s for much of the state this week. Officials are requesting that residents reduce their use of energy “as much as possible” from Monday through Friday.

The conservation of energy is “unusual” this early in the season, ERCOT Vice President of Grid Planning and Operations Woody Rickerson said in a statement Monday.

“We will be conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service,” Rickerson said. “This is unusual for this early in the summer season.”

The problems facing power plants in Texas right now are the summer version of the crisis the state faced over the winter, when more than 4 million people were left without heat and power amid snow and freezing temperatures, ERCOT Senior Director of System Planning Warren Lasher said in a press briefing Monday afternoon.

More than 100 people died as a result of the storm and subsequent blackouts in February.

Several gas and coal plants are currently offline to fix mechanical problems at various plants, Lasher said, but he did not offer details on how many plants are affected or where the plants are located. Lasher also did not say whether any of the plant repairs are due to the winter freeze.

The plants provide 12,000 megawatts of power for Texans.

Texas residents have been asked to set their thermostat to 78 degrees or higher, as “every degree of cooling increases your energy use by six to eight percent,” according to ERCOT.

Residents have also been asked to turn off lights and swimming pool pumps and to avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dryers as well as unplug anything they don’t need immediately.

ERCOT has not declared the new energy problem as an emergency.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill last week to reform the state’s power grid in response to the energy crisis caused by back-to-back winter storms.

The legislation includes “comprehensive reforms to fix all of the flaws that led to the power failure,” including directives for power companies and some natural gas companies to upgrade facilities and weatherize the power grid and a requirement for regulators to create an emergency alert system for when inclement weather and power outages are imminent, Abbott said.

All of the regulators who were on the Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT, at the time of the blackouts had either resigned or been fired by mid-March.

ABC News’ Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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