With High Temps Comes Near-Record Power Use

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AUSTIN, Aug. 17, 2006 – The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT), the electric grid operator for most of the state, is encouraging the public to practice energy conservation today as continued high temperatures lead to a record-breaking demand for electricity.

“There is a high probability that we will break our peak demand record today,” said Sam Jones, ERCOT CEO. “Barring unexpected major generation outages, ERCOT expects to have enough electricity to meet this demand. However, conserving electricity gives us an extra cushion of reserves to help ensure adequate power supplies.”

Examples of steps electricity customers can take to conserve energy include:

-Close blinds and drapes to block the sun and keep cooler air inside
-Postpone using major electric household appliances until cooler evening hours
-If health permits, set air conditioning thermostats higher than usual
-Turn off electric appliances and equipment that you do not need or are not using
-Use microwaves or outdoor grills instead of an electric range or oven
-Turn off your pool pump during peak hours.

ERCOT is not planning or anticipating rotating power outages at this time, such as the ones that occurred April 17.

“Although the temperatures this week have been hotter than the April heat wave, our situation today is drastically different,” Jones said. “That day we had 20 percent of our generation resources out for seasonal maintenance. In August, we expect high temperatures and expect to break records in a growing state like ours, so we are prepared.”

In the event that available capacity proves unable to meet customer demand, ERCOT follows a series of progressive emergency steps to prevent a region-wide blackout. The final step in that plan is to instruct transmission operators to initiate rolling power outages. However, Jones reiterated that such outages are unlikely today.

The Public Utility Commission offers conservation tips for the public on its PowerfulAdvice Web site: