Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

With Extreme Weather Coming, ERCOT Says They’re Ready

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues/StateImpact Texas

Controllers make daily forecasts of the next day’s electric demand and supply down to every five minutes.

Temperatures breaching the low 100s are expected to hit all around the state early next week, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

By Monday, the high in the Dallas-Fort Worth area should be about 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“This is exactly the season that the generators have been preparing for for several months,” says ERCOT’ spokesperson Robbie Searcy. “All the power producers in Texas know that it’s most important to have all of their units available when we start seeing hot summer days in Texas.”

ERCOT said, however, that there should be sufficient power supplies available to avoid hitting emergency alerts that call for rolling outages.

An extended heat wave and drought last summer forced ERCOT to declare emergencies on six days and shut power down on two days in August, avoiding widespread rolling outages, to interruptible customers. Those interruptible customers are large-scale industrial locations that take discounts on energy rates in exchange for volunteering their sites to lose power first when there’s trouble.

ERCOT suggests that retail customers curb their power consumption during the hot afternoons as well. “Any appliance that creates heat would be something to especially avoid during those peak demand hours,” Searcy explained “Hot stoves, clothes dryers, that sort of thing. Even if you have an electric hot water heater, minimizing your use of hot water during those few hours a day can make a big difference.”

In May, Texas set a monthly power demand record of 59,037 megawatts, surpassing the previous high set in May 2011 by 2.9 percent, according to initial ERCOT data. ERCOT’s all-time peak demand of 68,379 MW was set August 3, 2011.

ERCOT says they’ll use a variety of channels to keep the public informed throughout the summer. ERCOT Energy Saver, a new mobile app now available for Apple and Android devices, will provide real-time alerts when conservation is most critical in the ERCOT region. Users of the free app need to enable push notifications to receive these messages. ERCOT also will provide information through the news media, Facebook, Twitter and ERCOT’s new subscription-based EmergencyAlerts list.

To add more challenges to the mix, there is also a chance that low atmospheric pressures near Yucatan might develop into a storm at some point this weekend.

Accuweather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski says that “the movement of this developing storm will be highly influenced by the strengthening of a large upper-level high pressure area now over the southwest United States and a large dip in the jet stream that extends into the Gulf of Mexico.”

Another scenario is that Debby, the developing storm, misses the dip in the jet stream and gets shoved back westward toward Texas as a large area of high pressure builds over the lower states. The flow around that ridge could send Debby southwestward toward the coast of Texas.

Robb Jacobson is an intern with StateImpact Texas.


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