ERCOT issues 2nd conservation alert this week amid triple-digit temperatures

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a conservation appeal for Wednesday afternoon and evening as triple-digit temperatures continue to scorch the state. It was the second time this week that the power grid operator asked Texans and businesses to voluntarily conserve electricity.

Texans were asked to conserve electricity between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. The alert was initially incorrectly issued until 8 p.m. In a news release Wednesday, ERCOT said it did not expect system-wide outages.

According to ERCOT’s grid and market dashboard, demand hit a peak of 78,395 megawatts at about 4:40 p.m.

The Farmersville Fire Department said Wednesday evening that the city of about 3,500 residents in eastern Collin County would be conducting “rolling blackouts” starting at 8 p.m. at the request of ERCOT. Power would be cut to random homes for about an hour at a time “until ERCOT believes power equipment can again handle the demand without being overloaded,” the fire department said.

But a spokesperson for the power grid said in an email that the request was not ERCOT-driven and that the organization was working to correct the report. The Public Utility Commission of Texas also confirmed on Twitter that ERCOT had not issued any rotating outages Wednesday.

“Any outages your area experiences are local in nature and customers should contact their local utility,” the commission said.

How Texas wind energy relates to ERCOT grid issues

Several factors, including high demand and low wind, drove Wednesday’s alert, according to an ERCOT news release. Cloud cover in West Texas reduced the amount of solar generation, and forced outages of thermal generation — which includes gas and coal — also contributed to the alert, ERCOT said.

Spot prices on the ERCOT wholesale electric market hit the price cap of $5,000 per megawatt-hour about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, far above the typical price of about $50. A typical household uses about one megawatt-hour, or 1,000 kilowatt-hours, of electricity each month.

A heat advisory was in effect Wednesday as North Texas temperatures varied between 100 to 105 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. Temperatures are expected to remain in the triple digits in Dallas-Fort Worth through the weekend, according to the weather service.

On Monday, ERCOT’s grid and market dashboard showed demand reaching a peak of 78,379 megawatts, but outages were avoided after a conservation alert helped the state’s power grid meet demand.

Conservation alerts are triggered as needed when tight operating reserves are expected to pose a reliability concern. Conditions are considered “normal” when reserves remain greater than 3,000 megawatts. ERCOT has used conservation efforts more than four dozen times since 2008, according to a news release.

Level one emergency alerts (EEA1) are triggered when reserves fall below 2,300 megawatts and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes.

Level two emergency alerts (EEA2) are triggered when reserves fall below 1,750 megawatts and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes.

Level three emergency alerts (EEA3) are triggered when reserves fall below 1,375 megawatts and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes.

Here’s how to prepare for a blackout as ERCOT asks Texans to conserve energy

How to conserve energy

ERCOT recommends taking these actions to help reduce electricity use:

  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher. Every degree of extra cooling increases your energy usage 6% to 8%.
  • Use ceiling and portable fans to circulate cool air.
  • Install patio covers, awnings and solar window screens to shade your home from the sun.
  • Close interior blinds, drapes or shades to block the sun and heat during warm weather.
  • Use a clothesline instead of a clothes dryer.
  • On warm days, raise your thermostat to 80 degrees or higher if leaving for more than four hours.
  • Turn off lights and try to save activities such as cooking, laundry and dishwashing for early morning and evening.
  • Avoid use of large appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dryers.
  • Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment.
  • Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing nonessential processes.
  • If you don’t need something, turn it off and unplug it.

How to check on Texas energy

To find up-to-date information about demand and generation ability, Texans can visit the ERCOT website.

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