The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers. ERCOT is responsible for ensuring that the supply of electricity is sufficient to meet customer demand (load) for electricity in most of the state. When electric supply provided by all available power generation plants, wind farms and other sources becomes insufficient to meet customer demand, ERCOT begins emergency operations. During a power emergency when electric supply cannot meet consumer demand for electricity and all other operational tools have been exhausted, the demand for electricity must be reduced to avoid uncontrolled blackouts.
As a last resort, ERCOT will instruct electric utilities to implement controlled customer outages to reduce the customer demand for electricity on the ERCOT grid. This is referred to as load shed and will last until the power emergency is resolved by ERCOT. Typically, before calling for controlled customer outages, ERCOT takes steps to reduce the demand on the electric grid by asking customers to reduce electric usage. Electric utilities are obligated to immediately implement load shed procedures when ERCOT instructs.