New peak energy demand record set on coldest morning in Austin


AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Austin experienced its coldest morning in seven years and the rest of the state saw below-freezing temperatures, people’s use of electricity peaked Wednesday morning and set a new record.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, said it had a “significantly high load” when the energy use peaked at 65,731 MW between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. It says “historically high usage” and low temperatures will cause the peak.

During peak times, ERCOT asks people to conserve energy. Usually, these fall between 6 and 10 a.m. and 6 and10 p.m. in the winter. Here are ERCOT’s tips to conserving energy, especially during peak times when the electrical grid can experience a strain:

  • Keep thermostats as low as comfortably possible — preferably lower than 68 degrees
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances
  • Avoid running large appliances (washers, dryers, electric ovens) during peak demand hours
  • Close shades and blinds at night to reduce heat loss, and open them during the day to let the sun’s heat come in
  • Businesses can minimize electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment
  • Large electricity consumers should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production

ERCOT manages the flow of power to almost 24 million customers in Texas. During 2011’s severe ice storm, ERCOT had rotating outages because of the cold, which caused generators to go offline. This time around, ERCOT says it is better prepared and there is enough electricity to cover Texans.

According to ERCOT, the previous all-time peak demand (62,885 MW) for the month of January occurred on Jan. 3 of this year between 7 and 8 a.m. The all-time peak demand record (57,265 MW) for the month of February occurred on Feb. 10, 2011, between 7 and 8 a.m.

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