AUSTIN (KXAN) — With a heat advisory in effect and Tuesday clocking in as the fifth consecutive day with a high of at least 104°, the group that operates Texas’ electric grid is urging people to conserve energy instead of reaching to crank up the air conditioning.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued an Electricity Emergency Alert Level One and said it expected the high temperatures to result in record electricity demand Tuesday.
ERCOT has now lifted the emergency alert.
An EEA Level One means operating reserves have dropped below 2,300 mega-watts and aren’t expected to recover within 30 minutes. When that happens, grid operators “call on all available power supplies, including power from other grids, if available.”
EEA Level One is the least severe. At EEA Level Three, people can expect rotating outages.
Tuesday’s alert is the first issued by ERCOT since 2014.
Peak usage of 74,181 Mega Watts occurred between 3 and 4 p.m. That’s enough energy to power 14,836,200 homes. Most of the power demand comes from air conditioners.
ERCOT is asking people to reduce their electricity use until at least 7 p.m. It suggests people turn thermostats up 2-3 degrees and cook with a microwave or slow cooker instead of an oven or stove during peak hours of 3-7 p.m. People can make sure temperatures are set higher when no one is home. People can also use fans, limit the use of large appliances and close blinds and drapes.
ERCOT says electricity use “typically peaks during sustained periods of above-normal or extreme temperatures, when heat begins to build up over time.”
While KXAN meteorologists say Central Texas can expect a slight reprieve from the heat Wednesday and Thursday with a little rain, it will still be in the triple digits and “scorching heat and dry conditions” will return next week.
ERCOT manages the power flow to more than 25 million Texas customers, including all of Central Texas.
Demand is expected to go up by as much as three-percent each year.
In response, ERCOT is adding more power sources, particularly wind and solar.