Cooler Weather Relieves Pressure On Texas Electric Grid

After several weeks of extremely hot temperatures — and very little cloud cover — cooler weather has come to Texas. And that's dropped the load level on the state's electric grid by 20 percent.

ERCOT added even more electrical capacity to the grid in the last few weeks of August, when temperatures were regularly in the triple digits. Kent Sadoff, ERCOT's Vice President of Systems Operations, says Texas could probably use more generation.

"However, we do need to keep in mind that this was the hottest summer on record. And even though we thought we had adequate reserves going into the summer, the all-time record loads that we experienced ate up those results. The thing to keep in mind is we served that all-time peak demand without having to interrupt any firm customers via rotating outages, and we only had to interrupt our interruptable customers once." 

The heat and drought affected at least one generating plant's operations, when cooling water was too warm to efficiently do the job of cooling.

"It had to shut down or greatly reduce output at night to allow the cooling water in its lake to cool down so it would be available for the daytime peak. If the drought continues, we could have more plants experience those type of problems, possibly to the point of having to shut down just because the water's not available." 

Sadoff says, looking into the future, the state's capacity is sufficient — unless we have another record summer.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

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...