Texas’ record high temperatures cause Biden administration to declare a power emergency

Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 5:45 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The scorching heat is causing electricity demand to soar.

The state’s record high temperatures caused the Biden administration to declare a power emergency to preserve electric power system.

Thomas Overbye, electrical professor at Texas A&M said the situation is unusual.

“It’s certainly an unusual situation and we’re in an unusual high demand,” said Overbye.

The order allows the state’s grid operator to waive air pollution limits, that way generators can produce more power.

Overbye said ERCOT asking for permission to temporarily exceed pollution caps is necessary.

“Usually, those caps are fine. But in a situation like today where we’re experiencing record breaking demand, we just need to exceed those caps for a few hours,” said Overbye.

The state’s grid operator said Wednesday marked a record as the electricity demand hit a than 80,000 megawatts---the highest it’s ever been during September in history.

“I think it’s going to get close to 85,000 megawatts, or what we would call it 85 gigawatts, which is close to a maximum electric load ever. Usually, we set the maximum in July or August, so yes, it’s very unusual,” said Overbye.

The city of Waco said it’s prepared and does its part when energy consumption gets tight.

Ryan Dirker city’s interim emergency management coordinator said the city departments reduce energy use and keep backup generators separate from the power grid.

“They have them in case of an emergency, so the city doesn’t lose its water system. Those can be activated for a certain period of time to reduce the amount of power,” said Dirker.

Overbye said residents shouldn’t worry about getting involved unless ERCOT request voluntary electricity conservation.

“To exceed them [pollution caps] for a few hours is unusual, but it’s not anything people need to be too concerned about,” said Overbye.

The order is set until Friday night.