Fort Worth

Can rolling blackouts be avoided this summer? 104 degree temps provide first test

Energy usage is expected to hit an all-time record this summer for Texas.
Energy usage is expected to hit an all-time record this summer for Texas. Star-Telegram

The manager of the state's power grid has warned that Texas would set an all-time record for electricity usage this summer.

Many parts of the state are predicted to see triple-digit temperatures this week, giving the state's power grid its first test of the summer.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages about 90 percent of the Texas grid, says it expects no problems this week but will be closely monitoring demand.

"At this time, we expect there will be sufficient generation to meet the demand. ERCOT will continue to monitor grid conditions 24/7 and will communicate with consumers if there is a reliability concern," said ERCOT spokeswoman Leslie Sopko. "There are no current plans to issue an appeal for conservation, but we will let the media know if this changes."

ERCOT has already reported an all-time May record for energy usage this week.

Usage levels could go up later this week with forecasters predicting a Saturday high of 104 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Triple-digit temperatures are also expected in other parts of the state later this week.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for areas northwest of Fort Worth, including Mineral Wells and Graham, starting at noon Thursday through 7 p.m. Saturday. High temperatures are predicted to range between 102 and 105 Thursday through Saturday.

In April, ERCOT said it believes it has "sufficient generation to meet customer demand this summer" and predicted a peak summer load of 72,756 megawatts, which would be 1,600 megawatts higher than the peak demand record set in August 2016. A report by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation warned that ERCOT will have "tight reserve margins for the upcoming summer."

But ERCOT officials have expressed confidence they will have enough reserve power for the worst of summer.

"ERCOT and the market participants we work with are focused on system performance this summer," ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said in April. "A growing economy and retirements of generating units will tighten reserves available on peak summer days."

Rolling blackouts last happened in February 2011 during the week of the Super Bowl in Arlington.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna