Can Texas utilities turn off your electricity in a heat wave? Here’s what you need to know

Texas’ grid operator asked residents to conserve power last week as high temperatures and heat advisories gripped North Texas.

In its seasonal assessment, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas concluded that the grid has enough generation capacity to avoid rolling blackouts between June and September under typical summer weather conditions. However, record-breaking peak electricity demand is anticipated this summer.

When the power grid is incapable of keeping up with demand, rolling blackouts are used as an emergency measure. Texans may be all too familiar with this measure used during the 2021 winter storm.

Are there protections in place against rolling blackouts?

The Public Utility Commission of Texas, which oversees ERCOT, has protections in place for areas impacted by extreme weather.

According to the PUCT’s rules, an electric utility cannot disconnect a customer anywhere in its service territory during extreme weather.

This rule applies when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory for any county in the electric utility’s service territory or when an advisory is issued on any one of the preceding two calendar days.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Monday. Highs are expected in the lower to mid 100s with lows in the 80s Monday night.

In extreme cold weather, the rule applies when the previous day’s highest temperature did not exceed 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the weather service forecasts temperatures to remain at or below that level for the next 24 hours.