ERCOT says the rain — and statewide conservation efforts — helped keep demand manageable on Monday, after a record-breaking weekend. But heat and unplanned outages at power plants continue pushing the power grid to a crisis point. ERCOT's Theresa Gage says rain and cloud cover can make a difference in consumption.
"Unfortunately, most of the rest of the state is still baking. Really high temperatures today and no cloud cover or rain have pushed usage up very high. Twenty-five percent of the consumption — give or take — is from Houston alone. So when Houstonians can save, it makes a big difference."
Gage says unplanned maintenance has caused some plants to be offline, and the scarcity of cooling water hasn't helped at others.
"The drought is having a pretty drastic effect on cooling plants at generating plants. Generating plants use these cooling ponds, you know, to cool their facilities. There hasn't been much rain — there's barely been any rain in many areas of Texas — and these cooling ponds are both seeing their supply depleted and they're also seeing the temperature of the cooling pond go up."
ERCOT came close to calling for rolling blackouts twice this month, to protect against a more damaging system wide failure.