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We know Texas summers are hot. What we don’t always know or understand is how the weather impacts our energy use. Typically, energy consumption spikes in the summer months when the demand on the electric system is higher, partly due to everyone turning their ACs down to keep cool. While you may think your home’s energy consumption won’t impact the grid, when the temperatures rises outside and everyone turns their thermostat down, the overall strain on the electric system climbs.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees 90 percent of the state’s power grid, is expecting “record electric use this summer and an increased chance of energy alerts.” ERCOT’s preliminary summer assessment predicts 78,154 MW of total generation resource capacity—or electricity available—and the predicted peak demand—the highest amount of electricity needed at a given time—will reach approximately 96 percent of that capacity. This prediction is a “base-case” scenario with normal generation. Any disruptions in energy generation plants would lower the overall capacity.
If the predictions by ERCOT hold to be true, it is likely that ERCOT will have to declare an alert at some point this summer. During alerts, ERCOT can “take advantage of additional resources that are only available during scarcity conditions.” If that doesn’t work, ERCOT will issue public alerts asking for conservation. And if neither of those options work, ERCOT will be forced to implement rotating outages across the state.
To help combat peak demand in summer months—June through September—Medina EC offers a load management program to our irrigation-rate members. Through this program, irrigators allow the co-op to remotely access their irrigation pumps and shut off power—also referred to as load shedding—when needed to reduce energy use and the strain on the grid.
The load management program also offers financial benefits. When Medina’s peak demand is lowered through this program, it reduces the cost of power we purchase. Like most supply and demand scenarios, pricing varies based on how much of an item is needed. So when load is shed through irrigators at critical moments in hot summer months, it can reduce power costs.
Load management isn’t enforced every day—it varies based on the weather and overall energy consumption statewide. Medina EC staff monitors the demand for our co-op, as well as statewide demand, and makes decisions on a daily basis. More information about our Load Management program is available at MedinaEC.org/LM.
Medina EC also encourages all members to practice energy conservation, especially on extremely hot days. Medina EC offers “Do Your Part” conservation text alerts, open to those wanting to help conserve energy. Alerts with conservation tips are sent on days that could benefit from an overall effort to conserve energy. Tips include turning up the thermostat, avoiding high-energy-use appliances like a clothes washer, dryer and dishwasher. If you’re interested in these alerts, text ENERGY to (830) 423-5032. You can find more energy conservation tips at MedinaEC.org/Hot.
As always, Medina EC will follow ERCOT’s grid conditions and recommendations for any conservation requests. If emergency requests are made by ERCOT, Medina EC will send email alerts and post on our Facebook page.