News Release
August 01, 2011

Consumers asked to conserve electricity 3-7 pm today and this week

Extreme heat expected to create tight capacity, high demand across state 

 Austin, Aug.1, 2011 -- 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.   “We expect to break our all-time peak electricity demand Tuesday and Thursday, depending on weather conditions.”

 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.

 “At this time, we have sufficient generation to meet the demand this week, but it will be tight over the peak hours, particularly 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.

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 in occupied rooms to feel cooler.
  • 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.

ERCOT Demand and Energy Records since April 2011

  • July peak demand was 65,195 MW – a new record for July.  Previous record prior to this year was 63,400 MW (July 13, 2009)
  • June peak demand was 63,102 MW – a new record for June.  Previous record was 62,278 MW (June 25, 2009).
  • May peak demand was 57,356 MW – a new record for May.  Previous record was 56,344 MW (May 23, 2008).
  • June energy was 33.6 terawatt-hours (TWh) – 5.7 percent higher than June 2010
  • May energy was 27.8 TWh – 2.1 percent higher than May 2010
  • April energy was 24.6 TWh – 14.4 percent higher than April 2010

ERCOT Peak Demand History, 2000 - 2010*

YEAR DAY OF WEEK DATE

PEAK DEMAND,
MW

CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR
2011 Wed 8/3/2011 68,379 3.96%
2010 Mon 8/23/2010 65,776 6.02%
2009 Mon 7/13/2009 63,400 3.73%
2008 Mon 8/4/2008 62,171 0.07%
2007 Mon 8/13/2007 62,130 -0.34%
2006 Thu 8/17/2006 62,339 3.53%
2005 Tue 8/23/2005 60,214 2.92%
2004 Tue 8/3/2004 58,506 -2.55%
2003 Thu 8/7/2003 60,037 7.04%
2002 Mon 8/26/2002 56,086 2.53%
2001 Wed 8/15/2001 54,729 -4.99%
2000 Thurs 8/31/2000 57,606 5.03%

 

*Updated Sept. 30, 2011 to reflect adjustments made after financial settlement based on official meter data

Emergency Procedures Background

The emergency procedures are a progressive series of steps that allow ERCOT to bring on power from other grids if available, beginning with a Power Watch (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 (Energy Emergency Alert 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

  • View daily peak demand forecast and current load at  http://www.ercot.com/
  • View daily peak demands by the hour at this link
  • Get real-time notices of energy emergency alerts by following ERCOT on Twitter

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.

AEP Texas

Austin Energy

Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative 

Brazos Electric Power Cooperative

Brownsville Public Utilities Board

Bryan Texas Utilities

CenterPoint Energy

College Station Utilities

CPS Energy – San Antonio

Denton Municipal Electric

Garland Power & Light

Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative
LCRA

Magic Valley Electric Cooperative

Nueces Electric Cooperative 

Oncor

Pedernales Electric Cooperative

Rayburn County Electric Cooperative

Sharyland Utilities

South Texas Electric Cooperative

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