'Unplanned' outages hit Texas power plants in soaring temperatures

Texas power grid operator officials pleaded with residents Monday to limit their electricity consumption amid rising temperatures and a range of mechanical problems in power plants.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) appeal comes four months after fatal blackouts during a winter storm left millions of people without power - and weeks after state lawmakers passed a package of measures aimed at addressing some of the problems taken by the storm.
Officials at the nonprofit group, which oversees 90 percent of Texas’s energy production, urged residents to turn up their thermostats, turn off lights and stop using any major appliances until Friday.
A spokeswoman for the group told reporters that the outages exceeded 12,000 megawatts, enough to power 2.4 million homes. Some areas of the state, including counties Dallas and Tarrant, have been warned of poor air quality and potentially dangerous heat, with the heat index approaching 110 degrees.
In Houston, too, the index exceeded 100 degrees.
A senior ERCOT official Warren Lasher said it was not clear why there were so many unplanned outages. However, he said the group was "deeply concerned" with the facilities being offline and that a thorough investigation would be conducted to better understand the issues.
Officials "need to know why we are seeing unplanned, unplanned mechanical problems across the fleet," Lasher said.
Controlled power outages would be unlikely to be introduced on Monday, he said.
More than 40 people died during the February storm, many of them from colds or carbon monoxide poisoning, while trying to keep warm. In the following days, six ERCOT board members resigned. The CEO was fired in March.
Legislators tried this month to strengthen the state's power grid - which is not subject to federal supervision - through measures that force companies to winterize parts of the grid that are considered critical.
However, experts told National Public Radio that the measures are not enough. A reviewer told the network it was "an exaggeration" to describe new fines of $ 5,000 per day for non-compliant companies as "rounding errors".

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