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Severe heat wave is increasing pressure on Texas power grid

On another 100-degree day in Texas, Sean Whitaker was lingering outside. Dallas After finishing my iced coffee, I turned off everything in the house except the refrigerator and went back to the cafe.

“That’s why I go out,” Whitaker, 52, said, looking for shade at a patio table.

As Texas continues its second week of unrelenting heatwaves, public calls to stay hydrated and limit outdoor activities are joined by new calls for the state’s nearly 30 million residents. . Demand on the power grid is expected to hit record peaks, so people want to save electricity if they can. .

The arrival of blistering temperatures in early summer, which is believed to have killed at least two people, has strained Texas’ power grid, with many residents still living two years after a deadly winter blackout. is looking anxiously. Regulators have warned that Texas could signal that extreme temperatures exacerbated by climate change could strain demand on the nation’s power grid this summer.

On Tuesday, Texas’ power grid was operating under advanced “weather monitoring” that makes it more likely that residents will not be asked to cut power. Still, some energy experts who have been critical of Texas’ grid management believe that blackouts are unlikely this summer, given the greater risk involved in the winter.

But with scorching temperatures surpassing 110 degrees Celsius (43 degrees Celsius) in some parts of Texas, breaking and breaking records, the air conditioning kicked in and officials warned homeowners to We urge you to pay attention to your electricity usage.

“Do everything you can to conserve energy,” interim general manager Stuart Riley said. Austin Energy serves more than half a million customers in the Texas capital.

Forecasters say Texas relief supplies may not arrive by Independence Day. State climatologist John Nielsen Gammon said the cause was a stalling thermal dome formed by a nasty mixture of steady high pressure over the Gulf of Mexico, warmer-than-usual air, and the sun blazing overhead.

For some, the situation was fatal. Last week, a Florida man and his 14-year-old son-in-law after hiking in extreme heat in Far West Texas’s Big Bend National Park, where temperatures soared to 119 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Celsius). Died.

In Austin, paramedics have responded to more than 100 heat-related incidents in the past two weeks alone, accounting for more than half of heat-related emergency calls since April, according to city officials. .

Texas hasn’t had a rolling blackout due to extreme heat since 2006. But the Texas Power Reliability Council, which runs the state’s grid, said it didn’t rule out the possibility that the recent influx of new residents was straining independent systems operating in the mix. I am welcoming you. Fossil fuels and renewable energy. Unlike the rest of the United States, the Texas grid is not connected to the rest of the country, leaving few options for drawing power elsewhere in the event of a power shortage or failure.

Regulators warned the public in May that demand could outstrip supply on the hottest days.

“We have the equivalent of an entire city of Auckland. CaliforniaI move to Texas every year,” said Peter Lake, who was chairman of the state’s Public Works Board at the time, but who resigned earlier this month.

California has been nearing power shortages in recent years, especially in the evenings when solar power runs out. In Texas, Republican attitudes toward renewable energy have soured since the 2021 winter blackout, with conservative pundits falsely blaming wind turbines and solar energy for blackouts. .

Since the blackout, lawmakers in Texas have claimed the grid has become more reliable, but even some Republicans continue to voice concerns. They are also doing little to meet demand. Just before the heat wave subsided in Texas, the Republican governor said: Greg Abbott vetoed a bill aimed at boosting energy efficiency in new construction, saying it wasn’t as important as cutting property taxes.

Doug Lewin, an energy consultant and president of Stoic Energy, said he is more concerned about the grid in the winter, when demand for keeping homes warm continues to rise. He said that when Texas experiences a summer power outage, it’s likely to be a rolling outage lasting several hours. Still, he said grid operators don’t ask for power cuts lightly.

“I don’t think it’s anything to worry about,” said Lewin, who also writes the Texas Energy Newsletter. “But certainly this is a sure sign that things are getting pretty close to the limit.”

Texas isn’t the only state to closely monitor supply and demand. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which oversees the reliability of the nation’s electrical grid, puts two-thirds of the continent at risk of power shortages if temperatures spike above normal, according to annual summer forecasts. is expected to be exposed to

In the Dallas suburb of Red Oak, Mireya Youthery isn’t just sitting around because there’s enough electricity to keep her going. Her home’s thermostat is kept at her 78 degrees (26 degrees Celsius).

“We don’t want to be without electricity for too long, so we want to do our best,” she said.


Associated Press reporters Jake Breiberg of Dallas and Kendria Lafleur of Red Oak, Texas contributed to this report.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/ap-dallas-austin-california-greg-abbott-b2365207.html Severe heat wave is increasing pressure on Texas power grid

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