Summer 2019: ERCOT Alerts, Rotating Power Outages Possible

Every summer we advise you to be mindful of energy consumption as temperatures rise, and I want you to know this is not because it makes a good seasonal talking point. Higher temperatures cause energy usage all over the state to rise in the summer months. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has projected the potential for Energy Emergency Alerts (EEA) in the months ahead, and appeals for public energy conservation being issued are very likely. This, unfortunately, means the likelihood of rotating power outages (also known as brownouts) may also increase.

Who is ERCOT? Why Do They Matter to Member Electricity Use?

ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to more than 25 million consumers in the state of Texas by scheduling power on the statewide electricity grid. This grid connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines that make up about 90 percent of the Texas electric load. Once ERCOT issues an alert, additional resources reserved for use during shortage conditions are deployed. Calls for voluntary consumer conservation across the state are one of these resources. However, if power on the grid remains insufficient, rotating power outages may be required by ERCOT to preserve the system’s reliability as a whole and help avoid a total failure, also known as a blackout.

Be Aware of ERCOT Alerts and Practice Conservation

With that being said, I want our membership to know that we will always do everything possible to keep the lights on. GVEC practices drills on a regular basis for such occasions, but we should all be mindful of ERCOT alerts. The best way you can help with this is to limit energy usage during the part of the day when the demand for energy across the state is highest. These peak demand periods are usually in the late afternoon, between 3 and 7 p.m., when temperatures outside are at their hottest.

Some effective ways of shaving demand during peak demand periods are simple conservation tips: waiting to wash clothes or run your dishwasher until night or in the morning; setting pool pumps to run overnight instead of during the day; turning off lights in unoccupied rooms; setting your thermostat at the recommended 78 degrees for cooling your home; keeping blinds and curtains closed during the day; and unplugging small appliances that are not in use—these are all simple ways to help reduce energy usage during peak demand periods.

Join Rush Hour Rewards to Curb Usage During Peak Demand Periods

I would also suggest considering participation in our GVEC Rush Hour Rewards program. When you sign up for this program, you allow GVEC to issue instructions to your Wi-Fi enabled Nest® thermostat. Lowering your temperature setting to precool your home in the hours leading up to a Rush Hour event, then raising your temperature during peak demand periods helps lower the amount of power pulled from the grid. Participation in this program also includes money-saving offers and yearly credits on your bill.

Rotating Power Outages Are No Joke

We must take the possibility of ERCOT alerts and rotating power outages this summer seriously. Not only are we mandated to comply within minutes of receiving a level 3 alert to begin rotating power outages, but your contributions in practicing efficiency during ERCOT alerts is crucial to help keep circumstances from elevating to blackout status. Let’s take active measures by limiting our usage during peak demand periods and work together to reduce these chances as much as possible.

Contact Me by Phone, Email or Mail

I am always interested in your comments and feedback. Contact me by phone at 830.857.1152, by email at dschauer@gvec.org or by mail at P.O. Box 118, Gonzales, Texas 78629.

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