ERCOT Asks Consumers To Continue Conserving Electricity

ERCOT has initiated Emergency Alert Level Two, after power reserves dropped below 2,300 megawatts this afternoon. Capacity has been hovering around the peak, and consumers and businesses are again being asked to reduce electricity usage.

Level Two authorizes operators to drop interruptible loads.  That's when large industrial customers are paid to disconnect for a while, providing extra capacity for the remaining customers. 

Kent Saathoff is with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas — the state's electric grid regulator.

"They provide this service to us, and they get paid for it. They agree that they will cut their loads — essentially interrupt themselves — whenever we get in these situation where we need to call on them. That would decrease our load by about 1,000 megawatts. It's running a little over 68,000 right now, which is higher than yesterday."

If the situation doesn't improve, Saathoff says ERCOT could escalate to Level Three, which instructs utilities to reduce demand on the grid by conducting temporary rotating outages, lasting from 15 to 45 minutes as outages rotate through different neighborhoods.

"If we still, if that frequency, you know, we can't maintain that 60 Hertz frequency and it gets below 60 Hertz, that's when we get into Step Three, and that would be the rolling outages." 

Saathoff says it's not a matter of insufficient generating capacity — it's a matter of prolonged extreme conditions. Continued record high temperatures and increased electricity demand are expected to continue for the remainder of the week.

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Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...