By Jason Allen

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) – Four years ago North Texas spent winter in ice, then sweated out summer with more than 70, 100-degree days. The power grid was pushed to its limit.

Bell Helicopter that summer voluntarily powered down non-essential equipment some days to save energy. It came during a record demand of more than 68-thousand megawatts. That record stood until this year—when it happened without the same urgent requests to conserve.

“We’ve always been able to just cut out some non-essential equipment and just continue to our normal operations,” said Bell’s JJ Cawelti.

Power grid operator ERCOT told us it’s partly because people are using less; partly because there’s much more wind power now; and partly because of new systems like the one churning now near Kennedale.

For 40 years, the Tarrant Regional Water District just focused on getting water to the region. Now that water, is helping quench our thirst for power.

At the spot water has always been pumped into an Arlington creek and lake, the water district installed a generator. It turns a turbine, generating electricity, and then continue on to the reservoirs where it needs to go.”

“All from water that we’re already providing those same citizens for water supply,” said TRWD’s Laura Blaylock.

It’s one of nearly 80 generating units across the state available for power this fall, that weren’t around four years ago. Nearly 40 more, mostly wind, should be part of the system next year.

With energy demand only predicted to rise each year, the search is ongoing for more places to power up.

“If we can find ways to use those systems together more efficiently then we will,” Blaylock said.

The generator project cost the water district more than $6-million. It was worth it though they said, to offset the energy they use to pump water here from East Texas.

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