A dangerous heatwave with temperatures upwards of 100 degrees is causing a surge in demand for energy in Texas, putting pressure on the Lone Star State’s power grid and sparking concerns from residents and experts alike that rolling blackouts could be on the way.
“We’ve seen (the power grid) go down before, you know, for heat as well as for cold, and it’s warmer now,” one Austin-area resident told FOX Business this week. “I don’t see it getting any better.”
“I think there’s a lot of infrastructure issues that need to be addressed,” another Texan said, adding that residents like him will have “a lot less to worry about” when that happens.
The grid has gone down before, and residents are nervous recalling the deadly winter storm in 2021 that buckled the state’s power grid for days, leaving millions without power and costing more than 200 lives.
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Adding to concerns of another shutdown, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – which manages the majority of the state’s power grid – asked Texas residents last month to conserve power amid “record demand” after six power plants were tripped offline.
But Texas’ top energy official says there is no need to worry.
“I can absolutely guarantee the lights are going to stay on in Texas because of the landmark legislation the Texas legislature passed in 2021,” said Peter Lake of the Texas Public Utility Commission.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed two bills into law last June aimed at strengthening the state’s power grid.
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“During the winter storm, too many Texans were left without heat or power for days on end, and I immediately made reforming ERCOT and weatherizing the power system emergency items,” Abbott said in a press release at the time. “We promised not to leave session until we fixed these problems, and I am proud to say that we kept that promise.”
Yet, some experts remained skeptical. Rice University Professor Daniel Cohan told FOX 4 that Texas could still face days-long blackouts in the future, saying the legislation “didn’t go far enough to ensure supply is fully protected against extreme events.”
Others say time will tell.
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“Am I concerned about blackouts this week? No, not really,” said Beth Garza, the former ERCOT IMM chief. “What will become problematic is as we have this long slog day after day of 100-degree temperatures, that will increase the risk.”
FOX Business’ Connell McShane and FOX News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.