News Release
August 23, 2011

Power Watch -- Conservation Needed (Updated)

ERCOT in level 1 emergency; Consumers asked to conserve until 7 p.m. today

Update: Level 1 emergency cancelled at 5:19 p.m.  Peak demand for today: 67,136 megawatts (4-5 p.m.); Wind generation over peak hour: Approximately 1,500 MW.

Austin, Aug. 23, 2011 -- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT), system operator for the state’s bulk transmission grid, initiated Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 at 3:43 p.m. today because operating reserves dropped below 2,300 megawatts (MW).  Capacity is expected to be tight over the peak today, and ERCOT operators are closely monitoring the situation.  

“We are asking Texas residents and businesses to reduce their electricity use until 7 p.m. today,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations.  “We don’t expect to need additional steps in the emergency procedures today unless we lose a significant amount of generation over the peak period.” 

Peak electricity demand is forecast to be more than 67,700 MW today.  One megawatt powers about 200 average homes in Texas during summer conditions. 

“Until we get a break in this extreme heat and record drought, we appreciate consumers and businesses conserving electricity as they are able, especially between 3 and 7 pm,” Saathoff said.  “We also appreciate all the state agencies, school districts, businesses and residents who have taken steps to get the word out about the importance of conservation during these extreme weather conditions.” 

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 CEO: Thank you for conserving electricity 

Emergency Procedures Background

The Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) 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. 

Energy Emergency Alert Communications  

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 

New Peak Demand Records in August

  • 68,294 MW on Aug. 3, 2011
  • 67,929 MW on Aug. 2, 2011
  • 66,867 MW on Aug. 1, 2011

Prior to this year, all time peak demand record was 65,776 MW on Aug. 23, 2010. 

Demand Monthly Records

2011                                        2010

May:      57,356 MW         May:      56,344 MW
June:     63,102 MW         June:     62,278 MW
July:       65,195 MW        July:       63,400 MW 

Energy Monthly Records

  • May energy was 27.8 terawatt-hours (TWh)– 2.1 percent higher than May 2010
  • June energy was 33.6 TWh – 5.7 percent higher than June 2010
  • July energy was 36.3 TWh – 12.2 percent higher than July 2010 

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 about 90 percent of the state's electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 43,000 miles of transmission lines and 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