The first major heat wave of 2022 is expected this weekend, with temperatures forecast to reach into the triple digits Saturday and Sunday.
Residents may find themselves grappling not just with the unexpected heat, but also anxiety over the state of Texas’ electric grid, which failed in spectacular fashion during 2021’s Winter Storm Uri, causing hundreds of deaths across the state and more than a dozen in the San Antonio region.
Grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued a notice to Texas utilities earlier this week that the high temperatures will cause energy demand to spike, and reduce power reserves, but also that current projections show enough generation to meet demand.
CPS Energy is “feeling pretty well prepared” for the heat wave, Benny Etheridge, executive vice president of energy supply for CPS Energy, told the San Antonio Report Thursday.
“Our teams have done a lot of work getting ready for the summer, and it’s showtime and they’re ready to go,” Etheridge said. “We start making preparations very early in the year for summer; this has been our big season, like forever.”
The early season temperature spike comes at a time when many utilities take power plants offline for routine maintenance; CPS Energy currently has three units down now, Etheridge said, but still has adequate capacity to cover San Antonio’s projected needs over the next week.
In a notice sent out Thursday afternoon to utility providers, ERCOT said it may need an additional 3,000 megawatts from generators early next week. That puts energy providers on notice that they may be asked to delay taking units offline in the upcoming days, Etheridge said.
In a text alert to customers, CPS Energy encouraged customers to conserve energy, offering tips for how to do so. It also urged those who haven’t already done so to sign up for alerts; the utility has markedly increased these alerts since criticism during and after Uri that it did not communicate enough with residents.
Beyond conserving, folks should be aware of the risks during heat waves. Heat is far and away the top weather-related killer in the U.S., according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures are expected to reach 100 on Saturday and 99 on Sunday, but with heat indices as high as 110. The heat index is a measure of how a person experiences heat plus humidity; the body cools down more slowly when humidity is higher.
“Heat stress issues may affect some folks as early as Friday evening as winds will not likely benefit from the sea-breeze,” reads part of the forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “and those gusty evening winds that seem to never go away in April would have come in handy for this first taste of summer heat.”
The City of San Antonio will open cooling centers on Saturday through Monday to provide residents relief from the heat. A map and list of cooling centers can be found on the city’s emergency management homepage.