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Texas power regulators prepare for October solar eclipse

A full annular solar eclipse will cut across the state of Texas on Oct. 14, which could cause a dip in the state's solar energy production.
Texas power regulators prepare for October solar eclipse
Posted at 11:39 AM, Sep 28, 2023

ERCOT, Texas' electric provider, said it is preparing for next month's annular solar eclipse, which could cause a quick but abrupt disruption in the state's solar energy supply. 

According to a presentation provided to Scripps News by ERCOT, its solar energy production will drop to as low as 13% of its clear sky capability on Oct. 14 at around 11:50 a.m. local time. The drop in production begins around 10:15 a.m. and continues through about 1:40 p.m. 

ERCOT said it is working with solar forecast vendors and will pre-position its systems' needs. 

Unlike a total solar eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun, in an annular eclipse the moon merely gets in front of the sun in the sky. At the height of an annular solar eclipse, the moon is surrounded by a ring of light from the sun. 

The full annular solar eclipse only lasts several minutes, but for several hours on Oct. 14, the moon will partially block the sun throughout all of Texas. 

A swath including Corpus Christi, San Antonio and Odessa will see the full annular solar eclipse. 

SEE MORE: How to see the 2023 'Ring of Fire' solar eclipse in October

Other parts of the state will experience a partial solar eclipse. Swaths of Oregon, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico will also experience a full annular solar eclipse. 

Nearly all of the continental U.S. will experience a partial solar eclipse on Oct. 14. 

Although there will be a brief reduction in Texas' solar energy production, solar energy only accounts for a fraction of the state's power generation. According to the state, 4% of Texas electricity is produced by solar energy, as of 2021. Natural gas makes up 42% of the state's electric generation, while wind generates about 24% of the state's power. 

Although officials said they'll monitor conditions, as of now, ERCOT said it has not issued any conservation calls during the eclipse.

The annular solar eclipse will just be a primer for an April 2024 total solar eclipse that will cut through the middle of the U.S.

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