The idea is to reduce the risk of rotating outages during days of record-breaking temperatures. The state's electric regulator has agreed to short-term deals with NRG Energy and Garland Power and Light to activate the units. They would be used only in emergencies to avoid competing with companies already bidding in the state's deregulated energy market.
ERCOT's Dottie Roark says this has been a very unusual year:
"With the record-breaking temperatures and the record drought. And that's affecting some our generation as well, because they have to have cooling water to keep their plants cool, and the drought's affecting them, as well. So we've had more outages. A lot of this hot weather started several months ago, so that also has an impact on generation units, and they're experiencing more outages."
Two weeks ago, the state set a power demand record three straight days, topping out at 68,295 megawatts — barely avoiding rotating outages. Meanwhile, ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett is thanking Texans for their conservation efforts. He says the sustained heat and lack of rain or cloud cover has strained the state's electric grid, at a time when Texas is experiencing economic and population growth.