The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT), system operator for the state’s bulk transmission grid, is asking consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use during peak electricity hours from 3 to 7 p.m. today and the rest of the week.
"The ERCOT region is continuing to experience record high temperatures throughout the state which is causing high electricity usage,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations. “At this time, we expect to be tight over the peak hours today between 4-5 p.m., which means that significant generation outages could make us short of operating reserves,” Saathoff said.
If the daily operating reserves drop below the target thresholds, the grid operators will initiate emergency procedures, a series of progressive steps that authorize additional capacity from other grids and from dropping interruptible loads – large industrial customers under contract to be dropped in emergency situations.
“We would appreciate consumers and businesses reducing their electricity use from 3-7 p.m. as much as they are able,” Saathoff said.
The current peak demand record is 65,776 MW set Aug. 23, 2010. One megawatt of power is enough electricity to power about 200 homes in Texas during hot weather when air conditioners are running for long periods of time, compared to 500 homes under normal conditions.
Consumers can help by shutting off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances between 3 and 7 p.m., and delaying laundry and other activities requiring electricity-consuming appliances until later in the evening. Other conservation tips from the Public Utility Commission’s “Powerful Advice” include:
• Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
• When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans to cool the air.
• When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun.
• Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffee makers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
• Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.
• Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven.
• Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or evening instead of the afternoon.
Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible. Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.