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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Yesterday the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) announced that electricity demand had set a new July record. Today the electric grid operator for most of the state is recommending conservation.

On Wednesday ERCOT braced for another day of triple-digit heat.

“Right now we are ramping up, anticipating peak demand this afternoon to exceed about 66,600 megawatts (MW),” ECOT spokeswoman Robbie Searcy explained. “We are anticipating very tight reserves this afternoon and we are strongly encouraging conservation, particularly between the 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. hours.”

The new July record was set Tuesday, with the On Tuesday the electric grid peaking at 65,790 MW.

A single megawatt is enough to power 500 homes during normal conditions and only 200 homes during peak demand.

ERCOT uses a three-tier emergency alert system, but none have been issued.

“If we lose significant generation we could hit an energy emergency alert level,” Searcy said. “What triggers those is when reserves drop below 2300 megawatts and right now we’re not there and we don’t anticipate being there on peak.”

Many North Texans are having flashback to the rolling blackouts that occurred in February, during severe winter weather.

Before initiating rolling blackouts Searcy says ERCOT would take steps that include, “Taking some large, industrial loads offline or at least reducing their power use, according to contracts they already have.”

A government report released in July said the drought that’s gripping much of the U.S. is the largest since 1956. While the state of Texas is no longer in the worst stage of drought, water availability can have a direct effect on energy reserves.

“Last year the drought was a big concern because it did contribute to the record heat that we had last summer and the high electric demand that followed. It also started to threaten power plant operability because many power plants rely on water to cool their systems,” Searcy explained. “This year, right now power plant operations do not appear to be threatened. Drought is still affecting much of the state but not to the degree as last year.”

To reduce energy consumption between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. North Texans are being asked to –

Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment
• When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun
• Set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans to cool the air
• When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave
• Do not use dishwashers, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffee makers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
• Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary
• Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven
• Set pool pumps to run in the early morning or evening instead of the afternoon

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