Released by ERCOT:
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."
Peak Demand Forecast 67,794 MW
Wind Forecast for Peak ~1,300 MW
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.
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.
- Public Utility Commission Consumer Hotline – 1-888-782-8777
- Office of Public Utility Counsel Consumer Assistance – 1-877-839-0363
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.