TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) - Temperatures are rising in Texas, and that means the demand for energy is going up, too. But, at some point, the supply of electricity could fall short unless Texans start conserving power now.
Summer is considered peak demand time for the state's energy needs, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, also known as ERCOT, which manages most of the state's electric grid, is teaching people ways to save power and monitor their usage.
Air conditioners are some of the biggest energy eaters. And, although they're essential to surviving a Texas summer, they're also one way to save the state's future supply of electricity.
"There are smart thermostats," said Paul Wattles, a senior analyst at ERCOT. "There are phone apps that can help reduce load. You can set timers on your different devices. Some of it's as simple as holding off on running the dishwasher, or washer and dryer, until later on in the evening."
Forecasters aren't predicting record-setting heat like 2011 had, but continued high demand for energy is putting a strain on the long-term power reserves. The economy is also making it difficult to build new generators.
"Over the next three or four years, the concerns really start to grow," said Wattles. "That's when our margins really start to take a decline that could put us into an area where we start to have greater concerns about grid reliability."
ERCOT was able to avoid rotating outages last summer, and doesn't expect to use them this summer, but because of extreme heat and rapid growth, Texas has a number of ways to conserve.
"We wouldn't be a bit surprised if we had to ask the public for help two, three, or four times this summer," added Wattles. "We did it 14 times last summer."
The peak hours for electricity are weekdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. That's when ERCOT officials said one or two degrees' difference on the thermostat helps exponentially across the state.
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