Blazing temperatures continue across Texas with seemingly no end in sight. This summer could be as hot as the summer of 2011. Surely, someone saw this coming. According to interim CEO Brad Jones, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) apparently did not.
In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Jones talks about the current heat wave and points out that ERCOT forecasters didn’t think the heat would reach that of the 2011 during which temperatures were 5 degrees above average.
But, as CNN reports, as of July 10, there have already been 17 days of 100-degree temperatures this summer in Dallas. In comparison, there were 16 such days as of July 10, 2011. During that record-breaking Dallas summer, there were 40 continuous days of the temperature hitting or surpassing 100 degrees. In total, 71 days reached that sweltering milestone.
Going into summer 2022, ERCOT was optimistic. “The question we always ask of our weather forecasting team is: Is this 2011? And you’d hear no, this is not 2011,” says Jones. “Everyone was saying this is not 2011. And about the end of May, they’re saying, this looks like 2011. And at about the end of June, they’re saying it’s like we’re heading into 2011.”
But earlier this year, there were already concerns that this summer would be like 2011.
“It feels like 2011 again,” Randy Denzer, vice president of the Austin Firefighters Association, told Texas Standard in May. “Even without getting into the science and all that stuff, I’m just talking about the gut feelings of the firefighters who have been there before.” It wasn’t just people’s guts telling them that this summer would be bad.
Earlier this spring, Victor Murphy, the climate program services coordinator with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, also told the Texas Standard that this year’s weather conditions were “eerily similar” to those of 2011. But, he did add that there were significant differences, such as that the reservoirs in Central and East Texas were not as dry. “There’s a lot of room between the hottest summer on record and the second hottest summer on record,” State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said. “We could well hit that target.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, Jones is hopeful about the state’s grid making it through the summer — but worries remain. “Now, I am concerned that there will be more (generation) outages because just the way we’re running them this summer, not even the conservative operations, just how we’re running in the summer,” says Jones. “It puts a lot of wear and tear on some of these older machines. So I am concerned about their reliability all the way through the summer, but right now they are performing extraordinarily with low outage rates.”
On Monday, customers and large industrial users did beat projections by conserving power and reducing demand by over 2,500 megawatts.
“It was millions of customers in Texas helping out,” says Jones. “And this is where I get impressed by the Texas spirit, the spirit of people who wanted to help each other.” At this point, we don’t have a choice.