power grid 72460145 ERCOT Warns Of Energy Emergencies After This Summer

(credit: Robert Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – ERCOT says the state should have enough power to get through this summer without rolling blackouts, but reserves could be running below target levels by 2014 and tapped out completely by 2022.

A new report from the agency that manages the state’s electric grid –– it’s posted below this article –– says more plants are needed to keep up with Texas’s growing demand for electricity.

Reserve power could dip below 13.75 percent by the beginning of 2014, which is the amount the Energy Reliability Council of Texas says will keep the juice flowing during peak demand in the hot summer months.

“We don’t have that many options,” said ERCOT spokesman Warren Lasher. “Obviously consumer actions, meaning consumers actually reducing their electric usage, that’s something that we can put in place by the summer of 2014.”

He says the grid should have a reserve margin of just under 10 percent in two years time.

But more dire are projections of a decade from now: If power companies do not build more plants, the state will run out of power by 2022, ERCOT numbers show. Because plants usually take at least three years to become operational, Lasher says immediate efforts should focus on conservation.

Last year, as temperatures soared to record heights in August, the state had to declare the first stage of an energy emergency, begging residents and customers to conserve energy to avoid rolling blackouts.