DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For the second day in a row, the state’s energy demand sailed past the previous record for weekend use Sunday afternoon.
During the peak of demand Saturday, state residents used more than 65,100 megawatts, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ website.
That shattered the previous weekend record of 64,100 megawatts, which was set on August 20.
Sunday’s demand appeared to peak at about 4:58 p.m. at 65,284 megawatts. It dropped to 65,192 megawatts 15 minutes later and continued its descent throughout the hour, dipping below 65,000 megawatts before 6 p.m.
Early Sunday, ERCOT, which controls the state’s energy grid, announced a ‘vital need’ for energy conservation between 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day until Tuesday. A spokeswoman said the agency expected to set a new record for overall use early in the week.
The current record for total use is 68,294 megawatts, set on August 3. One megawatt can power about 200 homes during extreme heat.
ERCOT issued a Power Watch Sunday, the first level of emergency alerts that asks residents to conserve electricity by not using any unessential appliances such as dishwashers, laundry equipment, hair dryers and coffee makers. ERCOT also issued a Power Watch for Monday.
The Power Warning, the second emergency alert, blacks out power to commercial and industrial customers as defined in their use contracts. The Power Emergency, the third emergency alert, causes rolling blackouts to homes and businesses.
It did not appear that further emergency alerts would be needed Sunday, although ERCOT was quick to warn that could change on Monday or Tuesday.
“We can’t stress this enough; we need everyone to conserve electricity from 3 to 7 p.m.,” said Theresa Gage, ERCOT spokeswoman. “If every person in ERCOT does a little, it makes a huge difference.”
Temperatures Sunday soared to 106º in Dallas, 112º in Austin and 109º in Houston. The problem, Gage said, comes when residents blast their air conditioners during the peak afternoon hours to stay cool.
Energy use tends to dip during the weekend because many businesses are closed. However, energy production also decreases those days, Gage said.
“A lot of plants use the weekends … as an opportunity to take the plants offline and do necessary repairs,” Gage said. “This summer has been very hard on generators because the weekends have been almost as hot or as hot as a weekday, so they haven’t had the opportunity to take them down.”