Texas power grid sets winter record

01/07/2014 7:14 PM

01/07/2014 7:15 PM

The state’s largest power grid reached record peak consumption Tuesday morning but encountered none of the threatened shortages of the previous day, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said.

ERCOT, which serves about 85 percent of Texas’ electricity demand, said it hit a new high of 57,277 megawatts during the hour ending at 8 a.m. That narrowly topped the record of 57,265 on Feb. 10, 2011.

The 2011 surge occurred as numerous power generators experienced problems that took them off-line. As a result, ERCOT had to start rolling blackouts to avoid an overall grid failure.

On Monday, ERCOT came perilously close to implementing rolling blackouts, the third in a three-step emergency plan after several generators experienced problems, some weather-related. Demand peaked at 55,487 megawatts that day.

No difficulties with generating capacity were reported Tuesday.

“There was sufficient generation available Monday evening and Tuesday morning to serve expected needs and maintain the desired level of operating reserves,” ERCOT said in a release.

It said it had discontinued a conservation alert that began Monday after electricity demand shrank the grid’s reserve margin below 2,300 megawatts.

Electricity use in Texas peaks during summer, when air conditioners run. The summer peak is about 10,000 megawatts more than the winter peak.

A megawatt is enough power to supply about 200 typical Texas homes during a hot summer day, or about 500 homes during mild weather.

“We appreciate the consumer response to our conservation request [Monday], as well as the steps generation and transmission companies in the ERCOT region have taken to prepare for today’s power needs,” said Dan Woodfin, director of system operations.

Consumers can follow ERCOT’s operations and alerts with a free app available for Apple iOS and Android devices, available in online stores.

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