As an unrelenting heat wave continues to scorch Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is seeing record demands for electricity, which caused ERCOT to call an Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 Tuesday afternoon.

Around 3 p.m. Tuesday, ERCOT — which manages about 90% of Texas’ electric load — declared an EEA 1, which lasted approximately two hours. 

An EEA 1 is called when operating reserves drop below 2,300 megawatts and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes. Had conditions worsened, ERCOT may have needed to implement rolling outages.

ERCOT saw an all-time peak in demand Monday between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., with 74,531 megawatts. This eclipsed the 71,864 megawatt record set Sunday. 

“High temperatures have resulted in record electricity demand over the last few days and may result in a new record today,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness Tuesday afternoon. 

ERCOT may continue to see strains on the Texas power grid as the heat continues. 

New Braunfels Utilities stated that if ERCOT mandates rotating outages, it will make every effort to keep customers informed about the length of time they will be in effect and how the situation is progressing. 

“Our goal will be to keep our customers updated on what is taking place and why, and restore service as soon as possible,” NBU said in an official statement.

Updates are published regularly at nbutexas.com and on NBU’s Facebook page.

ERCOT works to balance generation and load on the electricity system in Texas at all times. The combination of higher temperatures, increased demand for electricity and lower generation reserves have put a strain on the grid, NBU said in a statement Tuesday.

 Working with a historically low planning reserve margin of 7.4% as the state’s coal plants continue to close, ERCOT reports identified “a potential need to call an energy alert at various times this summer” earlier this summer.

Operating on a scale system of private and public communication, ERCOT does not begin to alert the public of dropping reserves until it reaches EEA 1 levels. 

Beyond internal communications, there are three ERCOT emergency alert levels — with the most extreme being EEA 3. At EEA 3, there are less than 1,000 megawatts in reserve and ERCOT begins mandatory rotating blackouts.

Texas last entered an EEA 3 on Feb. 2, 2011 due to an unexpected critical winter blast through the Central Texas area.

NBU is one of 1,800-plus active market participants in Texas, and sends out only about 0.41% of the total load shed in the state. 

Still, NBU urges New Braunfels customers and consumers to save energy when possible, especially during the peak summer usage hours from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Suggestions NBU said can help reduce electricity use are:

• Turn the thermostat up two to three degrees during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.

•  Set programmable thermostats to higher temperatures when no one is home.

•  Use fans to feel 4 to 6 degrees cooler.

•  Limit the use of large appliances (i.e., dishwasher, washer, dryer, etc.) to morning or after 7 p.m.

•   If cooking indoors from 3 to 7 p.m., use a microwave or slow cooker.

•  Close blinds and drapes during late afternoon.

•  Schedule pool pumps to run in the early morning or overnight hours; shut off between 4 and 6 p.m.

 Customers have the ability to view ERCOT’s daily peak demand forecast, current load and available generation, online at ercot.com, or by downloading the ERCOT mobile app.

New Braunfels Utilities encourages customers to text “NBU” to #85700 to enroll in the Texting Outage Notification System to receive automated text notifications regarding outages, or call 830-629-8400 during business hours Monday though Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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