Online Only: Officials ask for electricity conservation during peak times

High temperatures, other factors result in localized grid concerns

Special to the PRESS

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the electric grid operator for most of Texas, is asking consumers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley to limit electricity use today, Oct. 13, especially during the 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. peak demand hours.

“The Valley area experienced very high demand during yesterday’s peak, and there are some unplanned power plant outages and less wind generation output expected today,” said Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin. “Unless there is some rain this afternoon, we are expecting even higher demand in that region today and expect to need conservation to maintain reliable grid operations in the Valley.”

Conservation is needed due to an increased risk that ERCOT will need to instruct Valley-area transmission and distribution service providers to begin rotating outages to protect the electric grid. Rotating outages are controlled, temporary interruptions of electric service that are typically limited to 10-45 minutes before being rotated to a different neighborhood. If rotating outages become necessary to protect the transmission grid, they will continue as long as needed to maintain the grid reliability and prevent a more serious, potentially more extended situation.

The specific locations and durations of rotating outages are determined by local utilities. Some customers may experience longer outages if power surges cause equipment failure during the restoration process. Customers can minimize power surges by turning off appliances, lights and other equipment, except for one task light to determine when power has been restored.

The ERCOT system hit a new October systemwide peak yesterday, with hourly peak demand reaching 59,125 megawatts (MW) during the hour ending 5 p.m. The previous October record, set in 2014, was 58,419 MW. A cool front in much of the state is expected to reduce systemwide demand today, but Valley-area demand is expected to be higher than yesterday.

Consumers can help ensure the system is able to continue serving today’s power needs in the Valley by taking the following steps to help support system reliability, especially 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 from 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.

For more conservation tips, visit

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to nearly 24 million Texas customers, representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 43,000 miles of transmission lines and 550 generation units. ERCOT also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for more than 7 million premises in competitive choice areas. ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature.

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