Continual heat in late July and August have created stress for consumers as they received their electric bills this summer. Consumers in Northeast Texas are not alone in using larger amounts of electrical power. Their neighbors across the state have aided in pushing the use of electric power to new highs in August. According to the U. S. Energy Administration in “Today in Energy”, Texas has set a new record for electricity use. They report that during the recent heat wave in Texas, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the operator of the electric grid covering most of the state, set a new record for electricity use when demand for electricity reached 69.8 gigawatts (GW) between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on August 10. ERCOT has been able to handle this extremely high demand without any system emergencies. Year-to-date through August 11, Texas used a record-high 4.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to help fuel the state’s expanded power generation needs.
Although sustained high summer temperatures and strong population and economic growth pushed peak demand higher than forecast, the grid has performed as expected. In its summer 2015 reliability assessment, the North American Electricity Reliability Corporation (NERC) had forecasted a higher reserve margin for Texas’s electric grid this summer (16.24%) compared with previous years (14.98% in 2014). Reserve margins reflect the amount of available generating capacity in the absence of unplanned outages at projected peak system demand. Reliability planning helps to ensure that there are enough electricity supply and transmission resources to meet demand even if there are unexpected outages of generation plants or transmission lines.
In August 2011, ERCOT declared several emergencies in an effort to reduce electric demand. Rolling power outages were avoided because load curtailment was carried out through demand response and interruptible load contractual agreements, calls for voluntary conservation, and execution of short-term contracts that brought four generators back from nonoperating status. Since then, grid operators have worked to better ensure reliability in ERCOT.
The complete report first published in U. S. Energy Administration’ “Today in Energy” found here.