ERCOT Braces For Back To School Power Surge

Back to school could bring big power problems across Texas.

School air conditioners are already whining, and when classes start Monday, the state's 8,317 public schools could strain the power grid.

"The main concern is as long as we're still having these high temperatures, we're going to have high electricity demand on the grid," said ERCOT spokesperson Dottie Roark. "And whenever we have that high demand it means we're tight on our capacity."

Altogether, Texas schools add about 1500 megawatts of demand to the state's power grid - enough to have caused rolling blackouts in both July and early August.

"If we suddenly lose a large generation unit or a large amount of generation then we could be, could drop below our required operating reserves and that's when we would have to kick in our first level of emergency procedures," said Roark.

So far this summer, conservation measures have prevented rotating outages.

"It's as simple as turning off your lights when you're not in the room, bumping up your air conditioning maybe a couple extra degrees," said Oncor spokesperson Ashley Burton.

Now schools are also being encouraged to cut back.

"The Texas Education Agency and the Governor's office I believe they're issued letters to the principals, the administrators asking for their help in conservation this week," said Roark. "The air conditioning is the toughest part, but if you can raise it a little bit higher, a few degrees higher, that makes a big difference as well."

The state has avoided rolling blackouts before by asking big customers to fall of the grid.

But under the agreement, ERCOT, the agency that manages the power grid, can ask them to do that just one more time before the end of September.

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