ERCOT

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News.

Texas' electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, has moved from Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 to Level 2. That means shutting down industrial customers who are paid for the inconvenience.

Moving to Level 3 would require local utilities, like Austin Energy, to implement rotating outages to avoid  uncontrolled, cascading blackouts that could damage the grid.

Texans are being asked to conserve electricity as the The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) saw its operating reserves dropped below 2,300 megawatts due to the extreme heat.

“We are asking Texas residents and businesses to reduce their electricity use until 7 p.m. today,” ERCOT vice president Kent Saathoff said in a press release.  “We don’t expect to need additional steps in the emergency procedures today unless we lose a significant amount of generation over the peak period.”

Later, in a conference call with reporters, Saathoff suggested that students returning to school this week might have contributed to an increase in power consumption as districts turned on lights and turned down A/C systems.

Photo by Daniel Reese/KUT News

The quasi-state agency that operates the Texas electric grid is reviving several old power plants to help avoid more power emergencies amid continued triple-digit temperatures. 

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas nearly ran short of power on four days in one week earlier this month. It was forced to declare power emergencies those days, and on one occasion took some industrial customers offline temporarily to avoid the need for rolling blackouts.

Image courtesy of Austin Energy

As record temperatures continue to bake Texas and air conditioning units run at full throttle across the state, Austin Energy is trying to reduce the potential impact of rolling blackouts.

Rotating power outages are preventive measures taken by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Austin’s utility will now spread the effect across 71 areas in Austin. On the above map, these areas are colored green. You can see a more detailed version of that map here.

The reason for this development: a flood of complaints when 20 percent of Austin Energy customers suffered extended (and repeated) power outages during rolling blackouts in February.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

It’s not just record breaking heat that is pushing the state’s electric grid to the brink on a regular basis this summer. Staggering population growth in Texas is creating an unprecedented demand for electricity.

“Our demand has been growing in this state for several years now,” Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) spokesperson Dottie Roark said last week in a conference call, citing the number of new residents in the state.

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

Update at 5:40 p.m. The worst of today's energy emergency appears to be over. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has canceled the Level 2B Energy Emergency Alert. However, ERCOT is still at 2A, and is urging people to conserve electricity until 7 p.m.

Earlier: The state's energy regulator said in a Tweet moments ago that there is now a "high probability" of rolling blackouts across the state. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas escalated the Energy Emergency Alert to Level 2B, meaning energy reserves are below 1,750 megawatts and continuing to decline.

ERCOT declared Level 2A at around 2:30 p.m., which triggered large factories, mostly along the Gulf Coast, to power down their operations in a bid to preserve energy reserves. It's the first time since rolling blackouts in February that ERCOT had initiated a Level 2A alert.

Oppressive heat is helping to push Texas’ power grid to maximum capacity. Now the state’s grid operator has declared an Energy Emergency Level 2, which triggers some factories to power down voluntarily.

But with the peak hour of energy consumption still ahead – 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. -- you may be interested to know about Austin Energy’s Customer Outage Portal, should rolling blackouts occur.

Photo from Austin Energy. Map enhanced by Torrie Hardcastle for KUT News

Update: Austin Energy has released an updated version of this map. You can find it and an explanation here.

Earlier: Texas is currently in Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 as the electricity grid struggles to power air conditioning amid sweltering temperatures. Level 3 would require energy companies like Austin Energy to begin rolling blackouts like those we experienced if February.

After the energy crisis this winter, Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis gave a presentation on the power emergency. The presentation included a map delineating areas of the city connected to so-called "load shed" circuits. These are the circuits that are the first to get turned off in the event of rolling blackouts.

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

The risk of rolling blackouts looms over Texas as people crank up their air conditioners to cope with the blistering heat. But the head of Austin Energy indicated today that he doesn’t have a direct way to alert consumers before the lights go out.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking Texans to conserve electricity from 3 to 7 PM today, as hot weather and higher-than-average energy use strain the state's electric grid.

"[Electric] capacity is expected to be very tight over the peak today, and ERCOT operators are closely monitoring the situation," ERCOT said in a media release.

Forecast for peak demand today is more than 68,684 megawatts. Texas hit an all-time record  yesterday when electric use exceeded 67,929 megawatts. 

Photo courtesy of The National Weather Service

Local Heat Advisory Extended

The National Weather Service has extended a heat advisory for Central Texas until Sunday night. Afternoon and early evening temperatures will reach or exceed 105 degrees each day.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

The state’s electric grid regulator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), is predicting another record breaking day of energy consumption.  

ERCOT predicts we'll use 67,084 megawatts of power today, blowing past the all-time record of 66,867 megawatts set just yesterday.

The high power demand has ERCOT pleading with people and businesses to reduce energy consumption at least until 7 p.m., and especially between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Austin’s Heat Wave is Breaking Records 

Camp Mabry reached a record 107 degrees yesterday. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory from noon today until 10:00 pm Friday night. The Weather Service says too much physical activity outdoors could cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, (ERCOT), has asked consumers to conserve their electricity use from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. today and for the remainder of the week.

Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations for ERCOT, explained the need in a press release.

“At this time, we expect to be tight over the peak hours today between 4-5 p.m., which means that significant generation outages could make us short of operating reserves."

Photo by dan_a http://www.flickr.com/photos/dan_a/

Remember last month when the state’s electric grid operator said it would have adequate power supplies for the summer? Scratch that. It's too hot.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is now asking people to conserve energy after several power plants were tripped offline today amid unusually sweltering weather.

Photo by bobthemtnbike http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobthemtnbiker/

The second largest wildfire in Arizona’s recorded history could cause cascading power outages that would leave El Paso and other parts of West Texas in the dark. NPR reports that the 600-square mile fire is expected to reach large electrical transmission lines by Friday.

The fire prompted Texas-based El Paso Electric to issue warnings of possible power interruptions for its customers in southern New Mexico and West Texas.

Image by KUT News

Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas continue to identify more power plants that went offline during the power emergency that struck the state two weeks ago. Normally, details on plant failures would be confidential for 60 days, because of market rules set up by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.  But ERCOT has asked power generators to agree to a waiver of that period. 

Photo courtesy of Miranda Martin/via Flickr

The state's electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), says it's expecting to set a winter record for power demand Thursday morning between 7 and 8 a.m. ERCOT is asking people to conserve power to help minimize the risk of rolling blackouts like the ones that swept across Texas last week.

Image Courtesy Cath in Dorset http://www.flickr.com/photos/cathwalker-hillygroundphotography/

Freezing weather is returning tonight and tomorrow morning. ERCOT, the agency that runs the state's power grid, is asking consumers to cut back on electricity usage, to avoid another round of rolling blackouts. Officials say the peak times for usage are 6:00-9:00 am and 4:00-8:00 pm, and that's when they need the help most.

Photo by Nasha Lee/KUT.

It's been reported that last week's rolling blackouts that left parts of the state in the dark for 15 minutes or more--in some cases, a lot more)--made for sky-high wholesale electric prices.

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

More than fifty electricity generation units stopped working overnight because of severe weather, reducing capacity by 7,000 megawatts and leading to the rolling power outages across Texas today.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has asked utilities and transmission providers like Austin Energy to implement the rolling power outage underway now.

Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.

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