Texas braces for heat wave, ERCOT appeals for power conservation

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is asking residents and businesses to conserve electricity on Monday between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. as the Lone Star State braces for a heat wave.

“Conservation is a reliability tool ERCOT has deployed more than four dozen times since 2008 to successfully manage grid operations. This notification is issued when projected reserves may fall below 2300 MW for 30 minutes or more,” the agency said in a statement on Sunday. “ERCOT also issued a Watch for a projected reserve capacity shortage from 2-8 p.m.”

ERCOT notes that it “continues to use all tools available to manage the grid effectively and reliably,” including using reserve power and calling upon large electric customers who have volunteered to lower their energy use.

Texas’ Public Utility Commission says residents and businesses can reduce their electricity usage by turning their thermostat up a degree or two and postponing running major appliances or pool pumps during afternoon peak hours.

ERCOT is currently forecasting peak electricity demand of 79,671 megawatts, with Monday’s tightest hour expected to be between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. During that hour, the grid is expected to be able to generate 80,168 megawatts.

While the state’s solar power generation is near full capacity, Texas’ wind power generation is currently coming in at less than 10% of capacity.

ERCOT’s appeal comes as Sunday marked the second-hottest July day in Texas since 1950, according to weather consulting firm Maxar.

Though ERCOT has said that no system-wide outages are expected, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner has asked all the city’s departments to check fuel and operational generators in preparation for a potential power grid failure.

As of Monday, the majority of Texas remains under an excessive heat warning or heat advisory.

The heat index is expected to soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in several cities, including Dallas, Forth Worth, Waco and College Station.