Complete coverage of Texas' record heat wave of 2011

ERCOT Still Calling for Conservation

By Greg Janda
|  Thursday, Aug 25, 2011  |  Updated 12:50 AM CDT
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The operator of the state's electric grid issued a energy emergency Wednesday because of strong demand for electricity.

Scott Gordon, NBCDFW.com

The operator of the state's electric grid issued a energy emergency Wednesday because of strong demand for electricity.

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The managers of the state's electric grid say Texans should continue to conserve energy because of the record-breaking heat.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it is experiencing high electricity demand.

North Texas had a record high of 106 on Wednesday, besting the previous record of 104, which was set in 2006. And Thursday is expected to reach 105 degrees.

"We're expecting more high temperatures Thursday and through the weekend, so we may have more emergency procedures later in the week and weekend," said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's vice president of system planning and operations. "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 p.m."

ERCOT expects those times to be the highest use for electricity as students return home from school and employees return to their homes after work.

The agency said it is concerned about demand during the rest of the week. ERCOT said it is also worried about the weekend, because that is typically the time when a lot of plants go offline for maintenance.

ERCOT said relief would only come if there is a break in the triple-digit heat. Texas is nearing the end of the season, and plants tend to go offline or shut down because they've been running all summer.

The agency dropped some large commercial and industrial customers Wednesday in an effort to prevent the need for rolling outages. The agency initiated the "Level 2" emergency at 3 p.m., asking large-scale customers to shut down parts of operations as reserves dropped below 1,750 megawatts. The alert was canceled at about 5:30 p.m.

ERCOT said it moved to the Level 2 warning for three main reasons:

  • High temperatures and high demand in big-city centers such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio that are stressing the system
  • Unplanned power plant outages
  • A decrease in coastal winds, with the lowest wind generation since July 30

Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's vice president of system planning and operations, said the risk of rotating outages on Wednesday was low, but the agency urged customers to conserve from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day through the weekend.

The all-time peak demand record occurred during this month of high temperatures, at 68,294 MW. ERCOT expects demand Wednesday to be more than 67,000 MW.

The record-high temperatures have lead to a string of messages from ERCOT encouraging conservation and warning about emergency procedures that could go into place.

Since February 2011, ERCOT has issued eight emergency alerts, with five in August alone.

But rolling outages are rare. ERCOT has only initiated full-scale rolling blackouts three times in its 21-year history. The last incidence was in February 2011.

For more heat resources and information, plus the latest news on the record temperatures, click here to access our Heat Wave special section.

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