Electric Reliability Council of Texas in a Severe State


The Texas electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is experiencing extremely high electricity demand. Operating reserves dropped below the target threshold of 2,300 megawatts.  This is bad news for consumers on a couple of levels.  The ERCOT system has hit several new demand records in recent weeks, most recently reaching 69,783 MW on Monday. During high-demand periods voluntary conservation can help ERCOT reduce the potential for additional measures, such as rotating outages, to ensure reliability throughout the ERCOT grid, but high demand also means the spot market price of electricity recently has risen to two to ten times the average price.  For consumers who have fixed rate plans, you won’t see a financial impact other than from your increased use of electricity.  For those who don’t you could see significant price increases this time of year.

ERCOT is asking electric consumers to limit or reduce electric use where possible during the 3-7 p.m. peak demand hours Thursday.

Although ERCOT has set new peak demand records without needing to issue a conservation alert during the past week, the high temperatures statewide continue to drive high levels of electricity use.

Consumers can help ensure the system is able to continue serving today’s power needs by taking the following steps to help support system reliability during peak demand:

  • Turn thermostat up 2-3 degrees during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Set programmable thermostats to higher temperatures when no one is home.
  • If home, use fans to feel 4-6 degrees cooler.
  • Schedule pool pumps to run in the early morning or overnight hours; shut off between 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Limit use of large appliances (dishwasher, washer, dryer, etc.) to morning or after 7 p.m.
  • If you cook indoors from 3 to 7 p.m., use a microwave or slow cooker.
  • Close blinds and drapes during late afternoon.

According to the Texas Energy Report, wind generation during peak electric demand today, hovered around 800 megawatts (MW) around 4:30 p.m., and continued moving upwards, according to the ERCOT, while both coal- and natural gas-fired generating units experienced generation outages.  In fact, the system had to import power from the eastern United States.