ERCOT confirmed that it forced dozens of natural gas facilities to go offline during the February winter storm under a program that pays large industrial users to shut down when electricity supplies are short. Hundreds of major electricity users, such as data centers, manufacturing plants and oil and gas facilities, have entered into “demand response” contracts with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, requiring them to install an automatic circuit switch or manually shut down operations when power demand threatens to exceed supply on the grid. Under these contracts, the state’s grid operator has the authority to interrupt power to large industrial customers when there are less than 1,750 megawatts of spare power on the grid.