As the region faces another cold night, energy companies ask Texans to conserve power right now

Hi everyone. Just a quick update this evening to set the table for a very cold night, and to provide what limited information we can on the state’s power situation. The bottom line is that lows tonight will drop to around 20 degrees in the city of Houston, with colder weather in outlying areas, and as temperatures plummet we are likely to see a strain on the state’s power grid. Please conserve energy during the next few hours.

Friday night

With lighter winds tonight, lows probably will be 2 to 5 degrees above the extremely cold conditions observed on Friday morning. However, with winds gusting up to 15 mph the apparent temperatures will be in the single digits again. This is weather unfit for people or pets, so please take precautions, as well as keeping in effect your cold-weather plans for pipes. We’ll warm up a little bit more on Saturday morning, with area highs reaching about 40 degrees. There will be less wind, as well, which certainly will be a welcome change.

NOAA forecast low temperatures for Friday morning. (Weather Bell)

Energy conservation

Matt and I have been watching the ERCOT supply and demand tracker all day, and it seems that the agency’s estimates for power demand have been consistently low. Understanding the ins and outs of this predictive tool are beyond the scope of a meteorology site, but the Texas Tribune has a helpful story on the issue. The bottom line is that, as of 7 pm CT, ERCOT predicts that it will have enough energy capacity to meet demands tonight. But things are going to be cut really close from now until 10 pm or so.

Power supply and demand forecast for now through midnight CT. (ERCOT)

To that end, some energy companies have been asking residents and businesses to conserve energy usage tonight. In an email to its electricity customers, Reliant asked for conservation through at least 10 pm CT by taking the following steps: 1) If you have an electric heater, set your thermostat 1 to 2 degrees lower and run ceiling fans clockwise; 2) Roll up towels or blankets and put them under drafty doors and window sills in your home; 3) Hold off on running your dishwasher, washer and dryer.

CenterPoint, which provides natural gas in the Houston region, is also calling for conservation. In particular, the company asked for people to turn off pool heaters: “We encourage customers to be especially mindful of their pool heater usage. One pool heater uses as much natural gas as 4 residential homes. Customers can keep their pumps on without the heater to prevent their pool water from freezing.”

To be clear: We do not anticipate widespread, extended blackouts tonight or tomorrow like the state experienced in 2021. Warming on Saturday should really help things out. However there may be issues this evening, and any steps you can take would help.

I’ll be back with a final forecast post on Saturday morning ahead of the Christmas holiday. Be well tonight, friends.

52 thoughts on “As the region faces another cold night, energy companies ask Texans to conserve power right now”

    • You’re part of the problem, bud. Learn to light a fire without help. LNG is currently 72.7% of our energy production as of 10:40 on Dec. 23.

  1. We were told the grid was ready and capable for this freeze unlike 2021. We’ll see if they were right.

  2. Forecasting human behavior is even more difficult than natural phenomena. The natural phenomena forecast was bad enough. It was, at least around here, about 4 degrees colder last night than expected. And the wind died down in West Texas today.

    The supply/demand curves were just updated and look better, but still a tad tight for another hour or so. And the ERCOT prices are above $1100/MWH (!!!). Oh, the forecasts this afternoon were for a low of 24, now Eric and Weather Bell are saying 20, so look for another blown demand forecast tonight.

    • IAM 68 I UNDERSTAND LEGALLY IF ITS TRUE U CAN PRINT IT.. I HIRED ROOF MASTER CONSTRUCTION
      HERE IN LUBBOCK, TX. TO DO MY ROOF . OWNER CAME DRESSED NICE..BUT 3 DAYS LATER THE WORKERS SHOW UP THEY DID NOT SPEAK ANY ENGLISH AT ALL.. ROOFERS ( THESE WERE DUPPOSE TO BE LICENSED PROFESSIONAL ROOFERS ) YET THEY DID THE ROOF TOTALLY WRONG THE RAIN DRAINED INTO THE BOXED EAVES UNDER THE ROOF.. WHICH WHICH FILLED WITH WATER THEN COLLADPED DOWN THE WALLS RUINING ROOF , EVES, WALLS AND THE UNDERNEATH BECAUSE AFTER15 CALLS LEFT MESSAGES ROOF MASTER CONSTRUCTION WOULD NOT REPAIR THEIR WORK, RAIN COMING IN THROUGH CELING IN PLACES THESE MEN WERE SUPPOSED TO BE LICENSED PROFESSIONAL ROOFERS
      YET
      THEY TOTALLY RUINED MY HOME I LOVED SO MUCH.. I HAVE ICE COLD WIND BLOWING IN THROUGH THE ROOF AND WALLS . NOW IT IS 38 DEGREES. INSIDE. THE HOME ! BUT IT 7 DEGREES OUTSIDE. ROOF MASTERS WILL NOT REPAIR THE ROOF FTER MANY CALLS AND LETTERS I SENT THEM… THEY THEN EVEN THREATHEN ME…SEVERAL TIMES..
      SO ..( BEWAR, OF ,👉,👉
      👉 ROOF MASTERS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY) LUBBOCK , TEXAS. THEY SERVICE 200 MILES AROUND LUBBOCK, TEXAS AREA..
      AND YES I CHECKED WITH BBB. UH..
      . I GUESS ROOF MASTER THREATHEN PEOPLE THEY RIPPED OFF SO ELDERLY WERE AFRAID TO WRITE THEM UP. ELDERLY PEOPLE
      THEY WERE JUST TO FRIGHTEN TO TURN THEM IN…SO..WARN YOUR REALITIVES IN LUBB, AMARILLO, MIDLAND AREA ( I HAVE PAPER WORK TO PROVE ALL THIS SHOWING ITS FACT PICTURES SHOW ING RUINED HOME…..)
      AT LEAST IN U.S.A. AS LONG AS YOU TELL THE TRUTH AND CAN PROVE IT .YOU CAN SAY IT….WRITE IT * PRINT IT..GOD BLESS U.S.A…LORD HELP US
      SAVE US FROM THE COLD BLOODED CON – MAN…I VE BEEN SICK AND I ALREADY LOST 1 PET BECAUSE ITS SO COLD. IN MY HOME .

      I WORKED HARD AT 3 JOBS WHEN YOUNG TO GET MY HOME.. NOW ON A CANE. 100,% DISABLED…UNABLE TO WORK , …
      I FREEZE…AND PRAY FOR 65 DEGREE WEATHER AGAIN. 🔥🌴
      PLEASE BE CAREFUL. I THOUGHT I WAS.. I PRAY THE PRINTED WORD IS MIGHTER THAN THE SWORD…..
      I HOPE I CAN SAVE ANOTHER ELDERLY PERSON FROM LOSING EVERYTHING…

      • Get the news involved. See if they can help with a story. I’m so sorry to hear that your home is ruined by the roofing company. Hopefully if they run your story, someone will be willing to help make your home safer to live in. Praying that it reaches the people with good hearts.

  3. I cannot believe that in this day and age that we continue to have this issue, especially after the Big Freeze. I’m originally from the NE and we NEVER had a problem in the most extreme of conditions. The TX government and ERCOT both need to get their acts together and do what’s best for TX residents instead of their bottom line.

    • Welcome to a state that brags about low taxes (despite having the highest property tax rate in the nation.) We’re living on 1940 infrastructure (house pipes are built on the outside, mains are only one foot underground.). We are not prepared for the weather that has been affecting us for at least three years and we have no plans to prepare for it. Because jobs!

    • But first, Texans need to leave politics behind on this issue and acknowledge the shortcomings of ERCOT, the state legislature’s platform and the state-proprietary power grid in meeting Texas’s increasing power needs in an effective, timely manner.

  4. I own a portion of a small natural gas distribution company. I would also ask all residents to turn off pool heaters (and maybe turn down natural gas furnaces a degree or two) until Saturday morning.

  5. ERCOT wants us to conserve power. Maybe they need to take the Crypto Currency Miners offline…they miscalculated their power usage-and crypto mining uses power for 240,000 homes. And maybe turn off the power to the governor’s mansion tonight, Greg Abbott, and go stay with your lobbyists who have 5000-10000 sq ft homes.

    Don’t ask the elderly, the sick, the people with small children and newborns to make up the difference this time. Don’t shut fown grids with ER’s and hospitals again. You and your cronies have not changed a single thing with ERCOT, except the names. No one got prosecuted for the deaths in 2021. No one was in trouble for rolling summer blackouts in 2022. And you personally have encouraged millions of people to move to Texas, knowing you, ERCOT and the energy companies were not increasing capacity and distribution fast enough.

    So turn off your power tonight and pile your bed at the governor’s mansion with every blanket. Turn off the floodlights, the alarms, the lights tonight and show you are a REAL Texas Governor. And on Christmas Eve, get up and start firing ERCOT’s board and hire some real Texas citizens who want power and will not be swayed by the lobbyists and politicians. There are thousands of retired energy engineers who can create a model that will NOT put us in this place again. There are thousands of retired project managers who can put timelines on a project that will get it done.

    Get out of the way, Greg Abbott. Enable the CITIZENS of Texas to manage the grid instead of the proven failure ERCOT.

  6. Very much appreciate the commentary. Can you explain why the graph for available capacity has declined from 85 to 71? What’s caused that?

  7. So hopeful that the grid will hold one more night. Does it look better for Saturday & Sunday night? Can’t wait for this event to go away!!

    BTW I ordered an umbrella. Any way to know when I will receive it! Thanks

  8. Cute that Abbot just had a press conference assuring us all that the infrastructure was fine. I’m sure his billion dollar mansion is unaffected by this. More lies the uneducated inbreeders in this state just eat up.

    • And I wonder how the people in the past survived these type seasons lol. Maybe they were alot tougher, stronger minded, and more resourceful than the big cry babies of today. Never heard so many Texans complain about normal natural occurrences as much as I have these last 15 yrs. People grow up and stop expecting everything in life to be a party and no hardships lordy.

    • Walmart need to study check out look for the LATEST DESIGNS IN PORTABLE HEATING UNITS ONES THAT USE PORTABLE HEATING UNITS THAT USE KEROSENE AND PROPANE THAT CAN BE USED IN THE BATHROOMS THE LIVING ROOMS THE KITCHENS ETC AT HOME WHERE PEOPLE DON’T HAVE TO USE ELECTRICITY OR IF BY CHANCE THE ELECTRICITY IS TO GO OUT THEY ALSO NEED TO CARRY THE FUEL LIKE KEROSENE AND PROPANE TO FILL THESE UNITS UP AS OF NOW I’VE BEEN TO FIVE WALMARTS HERE AND NONE OF THEM HAVE ANY PROPANE OR KEROSENE IN WHICH REFILL WHAT HITTING UNITS THEY DO SELL THERE’S LOTS OF THE NEWEST GADGETS OUT THERE THAT CAN HEAT A HOME AND WE NEED TO GET SOME OF THESE INTO THE WALMARTS INTO THE LOWE’S IN LUMBER YARDS HOME IMPROVEMENT AREAS WHERE PEOPLE CAN HAVE PORTABLE RELIABLE HEATING UNITS
      COM ON BUSINESSES FIND ORDER AND CARRY THE LATEST DESIGN IN LOWELS, HANDI MAN , WAL MART, OTHER HOME IMPROVEMENT STORES LOOK FIND LATEST PORTABLE HEATING UNITS A ND AND THE KEROSENE AND PROPANE BOTTLES AND LIQUID CANS THE REFILL THESE UNITS LOOK WE NEED TO GET WITH IT STORES YOU NEED TO CARRY THESE ITEMS FOR PEOPLE SO THERE’LL BE NO LOSS OF LIFE IT’S ELECTRICITY GOES OUT..

  9. When the demand rises closer to capacity, the wholesale price of electricity spikes–that’s a feature that entices increased supply. It also causes retail sellers of electricity to lose money, so they call for conservation by us, to reduce their losses. There is a fundamental weakness in grids that rely upon wind and solar for a large part of production (Texas is #1 in wind electricity production, by far); solar production goes to zero at night and wind production goes down when the wind speed goes down (which is why wind production is much lower this evening compared to last evening). There is currently no feasible cost effective electricity storage solution to overcome these fundamental weaknesses. Tonight we see the importance of natural gas power plants as they have ramped up to replace the reduced wind and solar production, unencumbered by the icing conditions of February 2021 that prevented this. But there have not been enough improvements to the Texas grid nor to the incentives for producers to keep stand by capacity available for times like this.

  10. I’m now totally confused and wary of the messages from our power suppliers and government. It seemed like everything was supposed to be in fine shape from a power supply standpoint yesterday and then abruptly today the picture has changed. Does this mean we can survive only one day of cold temperatures and then everything starts to fall apart? I can’t wait to see what they’ll say on over the next few days. I wonder if they would consider telling us the truth?

  11. So ERCOT is finctioning only nominally better than our recent Harris County elections? (Persons responsible for anticipating demand and serving product accordingly failed). Harris County now has an election czar who was appointed by 3 progressives on Commissioners Court. Not accountable to voters. Therefore graft, ineptitude, mismanagement, or even blatant corruption can thrive. Who is ERCOT? Namecalling keeps blaming Republicans, fat cat businessmen, pr the Governor. But none of our utilities are truly free market based or coonect user directly with producer. Thanks to govt regulations – which has gamed the system so there are no natural consequences or responsible processes. If electric companies raise rates to steer consumers toward conservation, consumers will jump to services being heavily subsidized by govt. Solar and wind cannot stand on their own two feet. They are brilliant for certain parts of country but are inane for others. The article by the Trib was a joke. Electric cars are the answer? The process of builing those batteries rapes the earth. And how is it that a recent car maker is shutting down a plant because of scarcity of computer chips , but the Trib is claiming that a chip filled car will save the earth from global warming? Eesh. I cheer the grandma in this thread who is turning off her Christmas lights to conserve. God bless her, every bit helps. I boo those who are calling names and sounding like children. I ask for everyone reading this blog to ask good questions and discuss all these things over our dinner tables (whether we are eating our oven baked Christmas dinners or cold pb&j sandwiches in the dark. Why are we in this mess? Because we have handed over our decision making and autonomy and agency. Electric self driving cars that you do not own are the future? Cars that can be turned off from Skynet because our electric consumptin is too high or because Joe Anonymous does not have enough social credit or because our country has too much traffic – does this sound attractive to you? I think that our “climate change” and our healthy earth could have been resolved had the government not jumped into the market with bad regulations and inflated wind, battery, and solar Much like Space City Weather, excellence can rise to the top when consumers find it and support it. (I am glad for Eric and Matt, but rather miss the early days when individual companies could sponsor each month!!!).

  12. Please forgive typoes and glitchy spacing, would you believe I was yyping while FREEZING!!! Peace be with you fellow Houstonians. And thank you Matt and Eric, for keeping us informed and well-predicted. Umbrellas were mailed out , fellow fans, got an email yesterday.

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