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AM Update: Record Electric Demand, Child Car Safety, New Tar Sands Pipeline

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Electricity Demand Hit New June Record Yesterday

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for most of Texas, reported hitting a new June record for peak electric demand Monday. Electricity use peaked from 4-5 p.m., when 65,047 megawatts were needed.

A previous record occurred last June, when 63,102 megawatts were used. ERCOT’s all-time peak demand, at 68,379 megawatts, occurred last August.

Triple digit temperatures are forecast for the remainder of the week in Austin. 

Texas residents can relieve some of the pressure on the grid by reducing electricity use between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m., according to ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett.

Conservation tips and more summer energy information is available at ERCOT's website.

Oil Spill Hearing for House Committee

The Texas House Energy Committee will hear testimony on tar sands oil spills this morning. This type of oil started running through a Texas pipeline last week, drawing opposition from Public Citizen - Texas.

Enbridge Inc. runs the Seaway pipeline, which runs from Oklahoma to the Texas gulf. The company also runs a 43-year-old Michigan pipeline, carrying the same type of oil, which sprung a leak due to corrosion in July 2010. The leak poured 20,000 barrels of oil into the Kalamazoo River. A recent report from the U. S. National Transportation SafetyBoard says Enbridge handled that spill irresponsibly.

Enbridge told Texas EnergyReportit does not believe a similar event is likely to occur with the Seaway pipeline:

“We went back ourselves and looked and did not find any examples of pipelines that failed from internal corrosion in the last 10 years that were carrying oil that was produced in the Canadian oil sands,” said Larry Springer, an Enbridge spokesman based in Houston. Springer cites the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) as the source of data backing up that claim.

The line’s current capacity is 150,000 barrels per day. Work is underway to increase that 400,000 by early 2013.

Texas Hot Car Deaths Fewer Than This Time Last Year

Texas has led the nation in recent years in the number of children who have died after being trapped in hot cars. So far this year, just one such tragedy has been reported according to data collected by Jan Null, a national expert on these types of child fatalities.

Four children had died in hot cars in Texas by this time last year, two in the Austin area.

Nationally, Null reports five such deaths so far this year. Thirty-three were reported for 2011 nationwide.

The CDChas guidance on preventing hot car deaths and other risks associated with extreme heat.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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