News Release
August 05, 2011

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

Continued extreme heat creating tight capacity 

Austin, Aug.5 2011 -- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT), system operator for the state’s bulk transmission grid, is reminding businesses and consumers that conservation is needed during peak electricity hours from 3 to 7 p.m. as the record-high summer temperatures continue throughout the state. 

"The peak demand forecast is close to 67,800 megawatts (MW) today, slightly lower than yesterday which is typical for the end of the week,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations.  “The amount of generation unavailable due to forced outages and capacity de-ratings is also a little better -- about 4,800 MW, or 200 MW less than yesterday,” Saathoff said. 

“However, there is still a strong possibility that a reduction in operating reserves could force us into a level 1 emergency and possibly a level 2 when we drop the interruptible loads,” Saathoff said.  

During Thursday’s level 2 emergency procedures, approximately 1,500 MW of load resources and emergency interruptible load service was dropped, averting the need to implement rotating outages, the last stage of the emergency procedures. 

“We’re again expecting about 1,300 to 1,400 MW of wind during the peak hour due to the high output from wind turbines in the coastal area,” he said.  “About 70 percent of the wind generation yesterday during peak was from the coastal wind farms.” 

ERCOT has set a new all-time peak demand three times this week.  The current record is 68,294 MW, which occurred on Wednesday, Aug. 3, between 4-5 p.m.  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. 

“We really appreciate the efforts of consumers and businesses all this week to reduce their electricity use during the peak hours,” Saathoff said.  “We expect to continue calling for conservation next week and until the high temperatures subside.”

Friday’s Outlook

Peak Demand Forecast             67,794 MW
Wind Forecast for Peak             ~1,300 MW

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.

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.

American Electric Power - AEP
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