Although Winter Storm Uri happened back in February, many Texans are still recovering. Though the freeze lasted only a few days, the state-wide power outages resulted in thousands of burst pipes, which left many suffering in frigid temperatures without power and water for days. Though we don’t have to worry about pipes freezing with temperatures rising, the state’s grid operator has estimated the upcoming summer heat could have a negative impact on grid operations.
Severe Weather This Summer Could Cause More Outages
When Winter Storm Uri hit Texas in February, our severely overwhelmed power grid caused power outages across the state with many Texans losing power for days. Now, as the summer heat creeps in, the state’s grid operator anticipates more electricity outages.
This concern is due to the high potential for a severe heatwave or drought this summer combined with a high demand for power. Experts and grid executives have warned that the power grid, which covers most of the state, is now at risk for further disruption as the demand for air conditioning increases. This is especially worrisome as Texas could also see a much hotter and drier summer than normal according to a recent climate outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
At all times, the power grid must maintain a balance between supply and demand. The operator for Texas’s power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), issued three potential scenarios that could throw off that balance this summer—the most extreme the entity has ever taken into account for a seasonal assessment.
One scenario addresses the potential for a drought similar to the conditions in 2011. This, combined with low winds, multiple offline natural gas plants, and an increase in economic activity following the COVID-19 pandemic, could leave the power grid roughly 3,600 megawatts short, which is the amount needed to power 700,000 homes.
The most extreme situation ERCOT is considering involves the potential for a severe heatwave across the entire state. Such a heatwave, combined with outages for every major power source, could leave the grid short 14,000 megawatts – the amount needed to power 2.8 million homes.
In the event Texas’s grid falls below its average safety margin of 2,300 megawatts in excess, the grid operator must begin taking additional precautions such as asking residents to conserve power or to initiate rolling blackouts to avoid mass outages like those seen during Winter Storm Uri.
How Texas Commercial Property Owners Can Prepare for the Summer Heat
As Texans know, summer weather brings both intense heat and humidity from late May to early September. While the state has weathered many summers without a hitch, this year could be different due to the potential for further power grid disruptions. With this in mind, it’s important that commercial property owners be prepared for the summer heat and know how to conserve power efficiently, including:
Have All Air Conditioning Units Inspected
When the summer months start to heat up, Texans turn to their air conditioning systems to keep the indoors cool; however, if an air conditioning system is old or faulty, fixing or replacing it can be costly. That’s why it’s important to ensure all systems are working as they should now. Commercial property owners should have their air conditioning systems regularly inspected to ensure any irregularities are fixed promptly.
Inspect Window and Door Seals
In order to ensure the cool air from air conditioning units stays inside, property owners should perform regular inspections of all window and door seals. Cool air can easily escape when seals aren’t properly in place, leading those within a building to unnecessarily adjust the thermostat to accommodate the temperature. Door and window seals should be checked regularly for any cracks or small spaces where air can escape and be resealed if necessary.
Reduce Energy Usage When Necessary
During an average summer, the hottest hours of the day can easily create high demand for Texas’s power grid. With the potential to overwhelm the grid this summer, it’s important to keep an eye on overall energy usage, particularly during the hottest hours of the day. While these times may vary, peak usage typically occurs from 1:00 to 7:00 PM, with the absolute peak from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. During these times, commercial property owners should consider cutting down on energy usage or refrain from using unnecessary equipment if possible.
Commercial Property Damage Attorneys
If you own a commercial property that has suffered damage and your claim has been wrongfully delayed, grossly underpaid, or denied, Raizner Law’s insurance coverage attorneys can help. Contact us today to see how we can best assist you today.