DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Electricity demand will likely break records in Texas this summer, so experts are already warning about the pocketbook impact on consumers.
After all, it’s a pretty safe bet that Texas summers, sizzle. So the Barbero family in Dallas decided to stop gambling on how high the bills would go, and turned to solar power instead.
“In the summer, you can have a $400, $500 bill,” says Pebble Barbero. “We’re locked into our monthly rate for buying the panels and in the summer months we are generating more than enough electricity to cover all of our a/c costs and appliances and everything.” Barbero says the opportunity to use “green” energy also factored into the family’s decision.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, says the state has enough generating capacity to meet demand, yet the agency is already warning that “record-breaking peak usage” is expected this summer.
So whether it’s solar panels or simply turning up the thermostat, experts say conservation will be critical as we head into the warmer months. There’s already concern about the difference between the state’s power generating capacity and rising consumption: it’s called the “margin.”
“The bottom line is it’s still going to be rather tight compared to some previous summers,” says Bruce Bullock, Director of the Maguire Energy Institute at SMU’s Cox School of Business. He says when the margin shrinks, prices swell. “If you happen to have a contract for your electricity at your home that is variably priced, then it’s gonna get expensive,” says Bullock. “You can save a lot of money if you shop around for your plan.”
Or be like the Barberos– and put the summer sun to work.
“It maybe hasn’t saved us a whole lot yet,” says Ignacio Barbero. “But we know that we’re locked in at a certain rate while we’re leasing to own the panels. Those inside the house it’ll be nice and cool and it won’t cost us anything more than it did in January.”