In this blog, we will explain why the Electricity Reliability Commission of Texas (ERCOT) asked Texans to conserve electricity earlier this week. Here's what it means for you, and what it means for the Texas electric grid. To answer your questions and explain why this happened, we interviewed Energy Ogre CEO Jesson Bradshaw.
ERCOT Requests Texans Conserve Electricity on All Week
On Monday, June 14, the Electricity Reliability Commission of Texas (ERCOT) requested all Texans to conserve electricity as statewide demand approached emergency conditions.
Thanks to the conservation request, demand reduced, and rotating outages were avoided. No Texan lost power on Monday as a result of the alert.
"The grid is operating exactly as it was designed and intended," ERCOT released in a statement. ERCOT Interim President and CEO Brad Jones is asking all Texans to continue conservation efforts between 3-7 p.m. for the rest of the week.
As we often do at Energy Ogre, we'll do our best to answer some questions you may have regarding this topic. Our goal is to answer them in a simple, digestible way. To do so, we recently interviewed Energy Ogre CEO Jesson Bradshaw to get his insight.
Energy Ogre CEO Answers Questions
Will we have any electricity outages this week?
“The fact of the matter is that it’s always a possibility,” Jesson says. “Regardless of the temperature outside, there is always the possibility of a disruption in the transmission of electricity to homes and businesses.”
However, Jesson is confident in the current system because of how well our electric infrastructure typically functions. Despite Winter Storm Uri, we rarely experience any large-scale service disruptions.
With that being said, hot summer temperatures will always cause demand to increase, which can become problematic. However, Monday’s warm weather didn’t overwhelm the system. Instead, demand cut into the 3,000 MW reserve margin.
However, renewable energy generation has become a priority for many in Texas. This means wind and solar generation is becoming more prevalent rather than building traditional power plants that burn coal and natural gas.
Economically, wind and sunlight are free sources of energy. So there’s an obvious benefit to incorporating both forms into our energy portfolio. But a heavier reliance on renewable energy means Texans will deal with the volatility of supply when those energy forms don’t produce as much as we need.
The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine which means some days demand for electricity will be tighter than others. Sprinkle in any potential mechanical issues, and that means at times we may need sacrifice using electricity however and whenever we want.
Think of this week’s conservation request like the gas light in your car. The light comes on once you have 50 miles remaining, but you do still have some gas in your car. Similarly, ERCOT lets us know if grid demand cuts into the reserve margin, but there’s still enough power to go around.
In the example above, the driver needs to get more gas, and Texans need to decrease demand. But as long as the driver fills up and Texans lower demand in time, then things continue to operate smoothly.
When are the peak hours of concern?
As outlined in the ERCOT statement, we see peak demand occurring between 3–7 p.m. Largely, the majority of consumption will occur though between 4-6 p.m.—the time when most of us get home from work, start to cook, and run bigger appliances such as refrigerators, laundry machines, and dishwashers.
As Jesson has always said, electricity is something we take for granted because we often overlook how complex the system is. “There may be a silver lining that appears amidst these conservation requests,” Jesson says. “I hope people take the time to recognize how much and when they use electricity.”
If Texans can slightly modify when they consume electricity, especially during peak hours, then we will all enjoy a more reliable, less tumultuous system that has little chance of failing.
When and where do we go to learn when we should conserve electricity?
ERCOT’s site is a great resource for info relating to the Texas electric grid. Every day, they regularly update a “Grid Conditions” graph to show how much electricity conservation is advised.
ERCOT also charts electricity capacity versus demand, and many other charts and tables showing various data points.
Aside from ERCOT, you can always count on Energy Ogre to relay important info through our social media channels and our blog. We will also email our members when big changes or events occur, such as Winter Storm Uri or an impending hurricane headed for Texas.
Lastly, your transmission and distribution service provider (TDSP) may also email you about decreasing consumption.
Is there too much electricity demand?
“No, electricity demand on Monday did not exceed our generation capacity,” Jesson says.
Rather, it simply exceeded how much ERCOT expected consumers to use. Monday’s projected demand peak was 73,000 MW—approximately 1,500 MW shy of the Texas record that was set back in 2019.
So was 73,000 MW more than we usually use this time of year? For sure. It’s hot outside! But that amount of demand still falls below how much electricity we are capable of generating. Speaking of generation… As we mentioned, there were multiple generators that were offline and unable to produce their common output of electricity. This leads us to our next topic.
Did some generation fall offline?
According to an ERCOT statement, “11,000 MW of generation is on forced outage for repairs; of that, approximately 8,000 MW is thermal and the rest is intermittent resources.”
So on a normal day, without those repairs being done, we wouldn’t have dipped into the reserve margin, and we would have avoided the need to call for conservation.
How can I curb my consumption during peak demand?
Please take these simple actions to help reduce electric use:
Raise the thermostat a few points higher than you typically do during the day. For every degree your home increases in temperature, your consumption decreases by six to eight percent. There is one necessary caveat worth mentioning. For homes whose temperature stays in the low 70s all day, it is important to avoid turning off the AC entirely or drastically raising the temperature. Doing so can ultimately consume more electricity because your AC then has to work twice as hard to cool your home.
Avoid using large appliances like ovens, laundry machines, dishwashers, and especially pool pumps.
Unplug devices that you will not be using: refer to our blog post about vampire energy to learn more about how much electricity you can save by doing this.
Using blinds and curtains during the day to keep hot air out of your home should alleviate some strain off your AC.
Will my electricity charges increase when demand spikes or when ERCOT requests us to conserve?
In the short term, the answer is no. Energy Ogre members are enrolled in safe, fixed-rate plans that are locked in through the duration of the contract. Nonmembers either enrolled in fixed or variable plans, are also safe from price spikes.
In the long term, nonmembers in variable plans could experience a higher rate the following month. And if the demand continues to increase, then so will prices, and consequently, retail electricity providers would increase their rates in the future.
If you would like someone to manage your electricity, while saving time and hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars, then sign up today! The average member saves about 40% and $800 in their first year.