Texas is expected to see more demand for electricity on Friday morning than previously projected, power grid leaders said Thursday, but they don’t expect systemwide blackouts.
The roughly 74,000 megawatts of demand officials are now forecasting is up from the roughly 72,000 megawatts they had previously expected for Friday, when demand is expected to peak during the winter storm that moved through the state starting late Wednesday.
Both projected numbers would top the electricity demand from last February, when it peaked at about 69,000 megawatts before the grid crashed, millions of Texans lost power for days in subfreezing temperatures and hundreds of people died.
A major issue last year was the reduced flow of natural gas to power plants that run on gas. This year, officials said they are not concerned because the grid has plenty of excess power supply. Commissioner Christi Craddick of the state’s Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, said some natural gas producers are having “challenges in the field,” but added that she was not concerned.
“The gas is flowing,” Craddick said at a Thursday news conference with Gov. Greg Abbott and other state leaders. “So I don’t think that any challenges we see in the field are affecting what’s going on across the state.”
The Texas Oil and Gas Association said Thursday that early indicators “suggest production declines will increase throughout the day” but reported that pipelines are reporting good pressure and plenty of storage despite the declines.
Around 1 p.m. Thursday, about 53,000 Texas customers were without power, according to the website poweroutage.us. Abbott and other leaders said the grid is stable and prepared and that the grid operator does not expect to ask Texans to conserve electricity.
They emphasized that the outages around the state on Thursday are not related to the management of the power grid, but tied to local problems such as icy power lines or trees falling on power lines.
Photo: Snow surrounds an Austin Energy station on Feb. 18. Credit: Sergio Flores for The Texas Tribune
Mitchell Ferman with Texas Tribune.