ERCOT Urges Conservation Tuesday

By Frank Heinz
|  Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011  |  Updated 4:54 PM CDT
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ERCOT Urges Conservation Tuesday

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PALO ALTO, CA -JULY 12: A power line tower is shown July 12, 2002 in Palo Alto, California. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission boosted the maximum price of electricity from $55.26 per megawatt hour to $91.87 in the wake of record-breaking temperatures for the week, including 112 degrees in Redding, California today. One megawatt is enough to power about 750 homes. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

ERCOT is issuing a Level 1 power emergency and asking consumers conserve electricity usage until 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Emergency Alert Level 1 was initiated at 3:43 p.m. 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.

This is the first warning from ERCOT in several days, but comes as no surprise with schools being back and session and temperatures once again on the rise.

Texas' 8,300 schools add about 1,500 mw to demand, pushing the grid closer to the limit.

“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.

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