Texans may hear more calls for power conservation with next week's extreme warmth

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Saturday, July 16, 2022
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Triple-digit temperatures are expected to threaten records across a state that has already urged customers to save energy multiple times this past week.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After asking Texans to voluntarily conserve power multiple times this week, energy experts said more calls for help could be coming with next week's warm weather.

Energy experts not surprised if Texans asked to conserve again

On Monday and Wednesday this week, ERCOT, which manages the state's grid, asked Texans to voluntarily conserve power for hours. The state's system went from green, which is good, to yellow, which means conservation is requested.

Next week, temperatures are expected to climb into the triple-digits, threatening several temperature records. Energy experts told ABC13 on Friday to not be surprised if the state asks for help again.

"We could easily be back in the same situation next week where we do get a couple of conservation days," said David Kinchen, chief operations officer for Energy Ogre.

The governor's office told ABC13 that the state increased production by 15% since the deadly winter storm in 2021, which left people without power for days. Still, energy experts said more needs to be done to ensure the grid handles the demand.

Voluntary conservation calls aren't new. ERCOT said it has asked Texans for help 50 times since 2008.

"Some years in the mild year, we might not call it for a very long period of time, or we may not call it all summer," Kinchen said. "Then we get into a summer like this where now that we've had to call it a few times, the propensity of calling it again is more likely."

Could blackouts be coming?

If a conservation call doesn't work, the state could go further. If demand gets close to the supply, the state could ask power companies to do rolling blackouts.

Kinchen doesn't believe it'll go that far next week.

"It was not comfortable, but we were able to skate through on just people's voluntary conservation," Kinchen said. "Close, but not super close."

Still, some Texans aren't happy with the current situation.

"I understand that we all have to work together to make it work, but it's not our job to make sure we have the energy that we need," Houston resident Freda Rodgers said.

ABC13 asked ERCOT about what the warm weather could do to the grid next week. A spokesperson sent us a statement.

"ERCOT expects sufficient generation to meet forecasted demand at this time. ERCOT is monitoring conditions closely and will deploy all available tools to manage the grid reliably. ERCOT continues to coordinate closely with the Public Utility Commission as well as generation resource owners and transmission utilities.We would like to thank Texans and Texas businesses for doing their part to conserve energy this past week."

Experts recommend money-saving steps to lower your energy bill

Kinchen said there are things you can do that are low impact, low effort that can help you lower your power usage. Adjusting your AC and using the fan can help.

You can also make changes in how you cook. Instead of the oven, which warms your house and forces the AC to work more, use the microwave. If you can, unplug unused appliances, especially older ones.

A VHS player uses twice as much power as a DVD player. Lastly, use a power strip and plug in multiple appliances, like a TV, game console, or coffee pot, that can be turned off.

This way, instead of having them plugged in all day, with one switch you can turn everything off, saving you money.

"If you set something like that, maybe it only saves you $4 or $5 a year on your electricity," Kinchen said. "That's $4 or $5 you've saved. It might also be that you have six devices that you can unplug. Is it going to be like you've unplugged a bunch of devices, and then you notice a huge difference in your bill? Probably not, but it does depend on how much you're consuming and how much effort you want to go through."

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