Record heat is creating record demand for electricity. A statewide conservation alert from the Texas Public Utilities Commission is in effect. State leaders say there is a danger of power shortages if demand gets too high so they're asking people to cut back especially between three and seven. That order had us demanding answers after ONCOR leaders, whom told us twice this summer the state had plenty of power supply.
ERCOT could be changing its tune. We had asked the agency about supply and demand because of the rolling blackouts that happened back in the February Freeze. Now ERCOT Public Information Officer Dottie Roark says they may not have enough functional power plants. ONCOR Manager Mike Nieto says, "If the temperatures are staying at above 105 degrees, then people should start thinking about conserving energy." The extreme demand is putting a strain on Texas power plants. Several in our state are down because of equipment issues. High temperatures are pushing machines to run at maximum capacity. And the power plants have been maximized out themselves.
ONCOR follows the guidelines from ERCOT. Nieto says he's also encouraging all to conserve. He says, "ERCOT has asked people, asked Texas to conserve energy. And so we're following those guidelines. And I'm recommending here in Wichita Falls. You do what you can do to conserve electricity." ERCOT is expecting its highest electricity demands for the month of July. Roark says the conservation helped out, and the demand did not go up as much as anticipated.
She says, "What uses electricity in Texas is this heating electricity, heating and air conditioning uses a lot of electricity." A lot of people are already trying to conserve. Not for the state, but for their own wallet. Curtis Rogers' last electricity bill was $350 dollars. Rogers says, "I started bringing in more fans and cut down on the air condition so much." ERCOT officials say the generator owners are working on fixing the power plants. They should be up and running by next week. This could help ease the strain on the power grid. ERCOT officials also say if the demands for electricity force us to energy emergency levels, power may be brought from other grids if available.