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Texas power grid operator asks residents to conserve power amid searing heat wave

Texas' power grid operator has asked people to "reduce electric use as much as possible" until Friday following days of searing heat and a "significant number of forced generation outages."

Why it matters: The request by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) comes months after a deadly winter storm blew out the state's power infrastructure and left millions of Texans without power for days.


  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) last week signed into law a pair of bills aimed at improving the state's main power grid and reforming the agency.

Details: "A significant number of forced generation outages combined with potential record electric use for the month of June has resulted in tight grid conditions," ERCOT said in a statement Monday.

  • Roughly "12,000 megawatts of generation were offline Monday, or enough to power 2.4 million homes on a hot summer day," per the Texas Tribune, which notes that ERCOT officials called the power plant outages "unexpected."

What they're saying: Woody Rickerson, vice president of ERCOT's grid planning and operations said in the agency's statement that officials will be "conducting a thorough analysis with generation owners to determine why so many units are out of service."

  • "This is unusual for this early in the summer season," Rickerson added.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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