One sign of the spring and summer seasons in Texas: the sound of air conditioners blowing in full force; until 2011 that is.
Summer 2011 brought a lasting drought and extreme heat to the state and Texoma was no exception. Texomans most definitely felt the impact of the intense weather trend.
The sound of air conditioners and fans subsided this past summer and energy conservation instead, became vital. The only option to keep the state of Texas from losing electricity was the enforcement of rolling power outages. Now, many Texomans fear the unknown forecast for summer 2012.
Dottie Roark, Media Relations representative with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), told Newschannel 6, "We are expecting above normal temperatures this summer. So, if that's the case, we do expect to be able to meet the peak demand on the grid unless we have those above-normal generation outages."
ERCOT's recent projections for summer 2012 indicate that, based on National Weather Service data, the state of Texas does have the capacity to meet consumer demands during the 2012 summer months. However, Dottie Roark with the electric council said, Texas will be "tight on capacity" because above average weather conditions are still expected this summer, just not as extreme as last summer, 2011.
Newschannel 6 asked Dottie Roark what Texas is doing or plans to do if the weather takes a turn for the worse, wreaking havoc on the power grid system for a second consecutive year. Roark said the state has a number of emergency procedures laid out should that situation occur. The last item on that list: call upon consumers, the general public, to conserve energy.
"We might have to go into our emergency procedures and call for conservation on some days because we will be tight on capacity. Particularly if we have a tight, hot summer," Roark said.
Concern about the power grid during the upcoming summer months isn't just about extreme weather conditions taking a toll. Another factor putting stress on the power grid is the consistent population growth in the state of Texas every year.
The growing state population increases electricity demands at a steady rate. In fact, the population of Texas increases at a two percent annual rate! Meaning, simple demand to serve more residents will likely be a burden for years to come – quite possibly year round, and not only in the summertime.
ERCOT officials said things are looking up and looking toward improvement, in light of the above population statistics and weather forecasts. The Public Utility Commission, along with ERCOT and the governor's office are teaming up and looking at the options to improve energy across the state. In the future, they plan to integrate new technology into the state's energy plan. The groups apparently talked about new, more efficient energy tools like smart meters and batteries that might help solve the problem.
Texas Governor Rick Perry toured ERCOT's facility Wednesday in Austin. The governor also met with energy officials to work to find solutions to the problem and develop a plan for the future. After Governor Perry's tour, he released a statement alerting the public of his commitment to finding more solutions.
Below is an excerpt from Governor Perry's release:
"Texas is dedicated to pursuing an 'all of the above' approach to energy creation, which includes expanding promising new technologies while continuing to develop traditional sources," Gov. Perry said. "I will continue working with officials at the Public Utility Commission and ERCOT to ensure we are utilizing all our available energy options. That's the only way we can assure Texans an adequate supply of electricity to power their homes, schools and businesses in the months and years to come."
To read the governor's complete media release, visit the official home page for Texas Governor Rick Perry: http://governor.state.tx.us/
For more information on projections for summer 2012 in your area, visit ERCOT's website by clicking here.