News Release
July 14, 2011

Power Watch: Energy Conservation Encouraged 3-7 pm Today

Unexpected unit outages, extreme heat create tight capacity, high demand 

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (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.

“We are expecting the statewide power supplies to be very tight over peak today, primarily due to the forecast for continued temperature extremes which causes higher than normal electricity use, and because of unexpected unit outages,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of grid operations and system planning.

Conservation Tips

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. 

 “If a high electricity demand or loss of additional large generation units causes our reserve power to be below the target threshold, the operators will begin emergency procedures to maintain system reliability,” Saathoff said. 

The emergency procedures are a progressive series of steps that allow ERCOT to bring on power from other grids if available (Energy Emergency Alert Level 1).  If the situation does not improve, ERCOT escalates to a Power Warning (Energy Emergency Alert Level 2), allowing operators to drop large commercial/industrial load resources under contract to be interrupted during an emergency.   

If the capacity shortage is not relieved by the contract demand response, ERCOT escalates to a Power Emergency (EEA Level 3) and will instruct utilities to reduce demand on the grid by conducting temporary outages at the local distribution level.  These controlled temporary interruptions of electrical service – or rotating outages – typically last 15-45 minutes before being rotated to a different neighborhood.    

Consumers should contact the utility company/ transmission provider listed on their electric bill for information about power outages at their homes or business, or about rotating outage procedures for their area.  

How to Track Electricity Demand

Consumer Assistance

  • Public Utility Commission Consumer Hotline – 1-888-782-8777
  • Office of Public Utility Counsel Consumer Assistance – 1-877-839-0363 

Call Your Electric Utility for Information about Local Outages

ERCOT manages the state’s high-voltage bulk electricity grid.  For questions about local outages at your home or business, or questions about rotating outage procedures for your neighborhood, contact the utility company or transmission provider listed on your electric bill.

  1. American Electric Power - AEP
  2. Austin Energy
  3. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative 
  4. Brazos Electric Power Cooperative
  5. Brownsville Public Utilities Board
  6. Bryan Texas Utilities
  7. CenterPoint Energy
  8. College Station Utilities
  9. CPS Energy – San Antonio
  10. Denton Municipal Electric
  11. Garland Power & Light
  12. LCRA
  13. Magic Valley Electric Cooperative
  14. Nueces Electric Cooperative 
  15. Oncor
  16. Pedernales Electric Cooperative
  17. Rayburn County Electric Cooperative
  18. Sharyland Utilities
  19. South Texas Electric Cooperative
  20. Texas-New Mexico Power 

ERCOT Region

The ERCOT Region includes Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Abilene and the Rio Grande Valley.  It does not include the El Paso area, the Texas Panhandle, Northeast Texas (Longview, Marshall and Texarkana), and Southeast Texas (Beaumont, Port Arthur, and the Woodlands).  Region map 

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to 24 million Texas customers -- representing 85 percent of the state's electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects 40,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 550 generation units. ERCOT also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for 6.7 million premises in competitive choice areas. ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. ERCOT's members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities (transmission and distribution providers), and municipal-owned electric utilities.

Contact
Robbie Searcy (512) 225-7213
rsearcy@ercot.com