Hot weekend means Texans need to conserve power

Predictions of a scorching-hot weekend has Texas’ main power grid operator calling for conservation throughout the weekend.

“Electric demand and usage will be extremely high and we need every person to help us conserve electricity between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday,” said ERCOT CEO Trip Doggett in a statement.

Consumers and businesses have been asked to cut back their use during peak hours repeatedly during the weekdays this summer, as the state’s record-breaking heat has led to record-breaking power demand.

Weekend power demand typically is less than weekday demand since most businesses are closed, but highs this weekend could reach 105 degrees or above in Houston, says the National Weather Service.

Texas set a new power use record on Aug. 3 of  68,294 megawatts, and the following weekend, Aug. 6 and 7, the state set a new weekend power use record of 63,300 megawatts.

Among the conservation efforts ERCOT suggests (yes, they’re the same as the weekday ones):

  • Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
  • When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans in occupied rooms to feel cooler.
  • When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun.
  • Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffee makers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.
  • Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven.
  • Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or evening instead of the afternoon.

If things get really bad this weekend and a power crisis is looming, how will you know before the rolling blackouts start?

You can keep looking at the ERCOT web site and see what kind of a warning is posted under the daily supply/demand graph (i.e. Power Watch, Power Warning, Locusts, etc.).

Or, you can look at this web site where ERCOT posts notices of operations problems, (if you can decipher the messages).

But your best bet is to visit us at obsessively throughout the weekend or follow my Twitter feed at houstonfowler since I will be staying on top of power developments (much to my family’s chagrin).