For the second day in a row, Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc., system operator for the state’s bulk transmission grid, initiated an Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 at 2:50 p.m. Wednesday, when responsive reserves dropped below 2,300 megawatts.
Officials said capacity was expected to be “very tight over the peak” Wednesday, saying ERCOT operators were closely monitoring the situation.
“We expect to hit another all-time peak demand record today, so we are asking consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use during peak electricity hours from 3-7 p.m.,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations, in a statement released mid-afternoon.
Forecast for peak demand Wednesday was more than 68,684 MW, exceeding Tuesday’s new all-time record of 67,929 MW. Prior to this year, the record was 65,776 MW (Aug. 23, 2010).
Saathoff said the possibility existed the grid might have to go to a level 2 emergency,
Which authorizes operators to drop the interruptible loads – large customers paid to be dropped in a level 2 emergency. Dropping the load resources provides extra capacity for the remaining customers.
“We’re expecting record high temperatures and electricity demand to continue for the remainder of the week, so we are asking consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity as much as they are able for the remainder of the week,” Saathoff said.
Emergency Procedures Background
The Energy Emergency Alert procedures are a progressive series of steps that allow ERCOT to bring on power from other grids if available, beginning with a Power Watch (Energy Emergency Alert Level 1).
If the situation does not improve, ERCOT escalates to a Power Warning (Energy Emergency Alert Level 2), allowing operators to drop large commercial/industrial load resources under contract to be interrupted during an emergency.
If the capacity shortage is not relieved by the contract demand response, ERCOT escalates to a Power Emergency (Energy Emergency Alert Level 3) and will instruct utilities to reduce demand on the grid by conducting temporary outages at the local distribution level. These controlled temporary interruptions of electrical service – or rotating outages – typically last 15-45 minutes before being rotated to a different neighborhood.
Consumers should contact the utility company/ transmission provider listed on their electric bill for information about power outages at their homes or business, or about rotating outage procedures for their area.
Consumers can help by shutting off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances from 3-7 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 Fahrenheit 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 3-7 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.
Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible. Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.
How to Track Electricity Demand
• View daily peak demand forecast and current load at http://www.ercot.com/
• Get real-time notices of energy emergency alerts by following ERCOT on Twitter
• Public Utility Commission Consumer Hotline – 1-888-782-8777
• Office of Public Utility Counsel Consumer Assistance – 1-877-839-0363