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Texas sets new winter electricity demand record

The state's largest power grid saw record peak consumption in the hour ending at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said today. The new high of 57,277 megawatts narrowly topped the previous record of 57,265 megawatts on Feb. 10, 2011. Unlike during the 2011 peak, however, the grid had adequate generation capacity online to meet demand as still maintain its desired reserve margin. On Monday the unexpected loss of several generating units pushed the grid to its limit, as ERCOT's operators took emergency measures to curtail demand but did not have to implement rotating blackouts, its most severe response to a threatened power shortage.  Texas summer peak is about 10,000 megawatts higher than the winter peak. A megawatt is roughly enough electricity to serve 200 typical Texas residences during a period of peak demand -- typically a hot summer day when air conditioners are humming -- and about 500 homes during mild weather.

"There was sufficient generation available Monday evening and Tuesday morning to serve expected needs and maintain the desired level of operating reserves, even with demand exceeding Monday’s 55,487 MW morning peak and 56,031 MW evening peak. Peak demand in winter weather typically occurs between 6 and 9 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.," ERCOT said in a news release. It said it had discontinued a Conservation Alert that began Monday, "when high demand and sudden electric generation outages in the early morning hours caused operating reserves — the electricity available on the system in excess of what is currently being used — to drop below the 2,300 MW trigger for an Energy Emergency Alert."

 “We appreciate the consumer response to our conservation request yesterday, as well as the steps generation and transmission companies in the ERCOT region have taken to prepare for today’s power needs,” said Dan Woodfin, director of System Operations. Consumers can follow ERCOT's operations and alerts with a free app available for Apple iOS devices and Android devices, available at their respective online stores.

-- Jim Fuquay



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