Electricity Markets

With sustained heat projections, ERCOT urges conservation measures

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas urged power consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use on Thursday, Sept. 5 and Friday, Sept. 6, especially during the hours of 2 to 7 p.m.

Some areas of Texas are expected to see the highest temperatures experienced so far this summer, ERCOT noted on Sept. 4. Temperatures are expected to exceed 100 degrees in all major Texas metropolitan areas through Sept. 7.

ERCOT set a new September peak demand record on Tuesday, Sept. 3 when demand reached 68,546 MW between 4 and 5 p.m. This is more than 1,500 MW higher than the previous September record set in 2016.

Leslie Sopko, Communications Manager at ERCOT, said that the current peak load forecast for Sept. 5 was 69,609 MW. ERCOT’s seven-day load forecast is available here.

Public power utilities

Several public power utilities in the state leveraged social media channels to get the word out about the expected higher power demand.

“We're anticipating high demand for electricity on THURSDAY, SEPT 5. Save energy and save money by reducing your use between 3p - 7p (when energy consumption is highest),” San Antonio-based CPS Energy said in a Facebook post.

Austin Energy retweeted a tweet from ERCOT in which the grid operator said that high heat and record-breaking demand were expected to result in tight conditions and that it was seeking conservation Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, New Braunfels Utilities issued a news release on Sept. 5 detailing ERCOT’s call for voluntary energy conservation.

Power grid also faced challenges in August

The Texas power grid also faced challenging conditions in August.

ERCOT on Aug. 13 issued a level 1 energy emergency alert, a call for conservation that hadn’t been declared since January 2014. ERCOT, which runs most of the grid in Texas, has three levels of emergency alerts.

ERCOT can issue a level 1 alert when operating reserves drop below 2,300 megawatts and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes.

When ERCOT declares an energy alert, the grid operator can take advantage of additional resources that are only available during scarcity conditions. The resources include demand response, resources that are normally set aside to provide operating reserves, additional generation or imports from neighboring regions and voluntary calls for conservation.

On the afternoon of Aug.13, ERCOT’s average real-time market energy price hit the $9,000 per megawatt-hour offer cap for several 15-minute settlement intervals, ERCOT said.

“Through the regulators’ good leadership the market participants are coordinated for a sustained spate of 100-degree days across much of the state as occurred August 13,” Russ Keene, Executive Director of the Texas Public Power Association, noted at the time.

ERCOT announced in March that its planning reserve margin was a historically low 7.4% while electric demand in the region continues to grow. The ERCOT region includes the urban load centers of Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin, as well as most of West Texas, portions of the Panhandle and the Rio Grande Valley.

It excludes the El Paso area, Northeast Texas (Longview, Marshall and Texarkana) and Southeast Texas (Beaumont, Port Arthur and The Woodlands).