Texas power grid meeting high demand during arctic blast, peak demand expected Friday

It looks like there may be a little more demand on the Texas power grid than ERCOT and state regulators anticipated for Thursday.

The chairman of the Public Utility Commission Wednesday proudly proclaimed the grid was "ready and reliable." 

So far, it has been. There haven't been any widespread outages. But demand has been higher than expected. 

RELATED STORY: Texas leaders on arctic blast: 'The power grid is ready and reliable' 

ERCOT’s live dashboard shows the supply is still well ahead of the demand. The amount of pad between the two has narrowed a bit entering into Thursday night, but there are still several thousand megawatts of reserves.               

ERCOT, the agency that manages the Texas power grid, projects that peak power demand will be at 9 a.m. on Friday. The projection for peak demand has climbed to 71,153 megawatts.

That is a few thousand megawatts above what ERCOT projected for peak demand this winter.

READ MORE: Man dies, 7 others hospitalized as emergency crews respond to calls during arctic blast

Supply can be a concern if freezing temps impact equipment. 

Energy consultant Doug Lewin notes that there are a number of factors that don't make this storm have as big of an impact as Winter Storm Uri in 2021.

"I think this is not a true test. I would call that a small quiz at the beginning of the semester or something," said Lewin, the president of Stoic Energy. "The final exam will be another Uri type of event."

The lack of snow and ice really differentiates this storm from the one in 2021.

READ MORE: How this week's arctic blast compares to the deadly Feb. 2021 freeze

"I think the biggest wild card, the things that we don't know about that could impact things negatively, would be gas supply," he said.

Lewin doesn’t expect any major issues but says how well the gas infrastructure holds up to prolonged freezing temps is one of the big questions.

"We're being asked to take a lot on faith. If the thermal power plants perform as expected and if gas supply performs as we would hope it would, then the kinds of peaks we're looking at Friday night shouldn't be a concern," he said. "But again, we just don't know what's going on in the gas supply system. So it's still it still leaves me a little apprehensive."

ERCOT has not formally requested people conserve power.

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The Texas Railroad Commission, which has oversight of natural gas production and transmission, shared a photo of officials checking some of the weather preps for gas infrastructure. That was a major issue in 2021.

There have been some power outages being blamed on the high winds, but there hasn’t been anything widespread.

At last check, the highest numbers is in Ellis County where about 4,800 customers out of 71,000 are without power. Another 4,600 are out in Dallas County, under 3,000 in Collin County and 1,700 in Tarrant County.