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State grid operator asks Texans to reduce energy use Thursday afternoon as demand spikes

By Emily Foxhall, The Texas Tribune

State grid operator asks Texans to reduce energy use Thursday afternoon as demand spikes” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The state’s electric grid operator is asking people to reduce their power use between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, when forecasters expect to see high demand for electricity because of extremely hot temperatures that are baking the state.

To lower energy use, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas recommends that residents raise their thermostat by a degree or two if safe, refrain from running large appliances such as washing machines and dryers, and turn off and unplug lights and other appliances that aren’t needed.

This is the second such request that grid operators have made this summer. The call does not mean the grid is in emergency conditions, but is a way for operators to try to lower demand when conditions look tight — which typically occurs late in the day when it’s still hot and people return home from work, where they might flip on their TVs, cook dinner and crank up their air conditioners.

Electricity users have exceeded the record for power demand on the state’s main grid 10 times so far this summer, according to ERCOT data. This is in part because the state has continued to grow, but it also reflects how the extreme heat has tested the state’s power system.

A significant increase in solar farms built in recent years in Texas has helped meet increasing demand. Texas can also produce the most wind power of any state. But solar power declines as the sun sets. And on Thursday, ERCOT cited low wind power generation as an additional cause for concern.

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