What Does Peak Demand in Texas Mean to Me?

What Does Peak Demand in Texas Mean to Me?

Whew! It was really hot in Texas yesterday!

How hot was it?

So hot that we set a record for the most megawatts used in an hour!

It’s true. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas – ERCOT, the folks who operate the energy grid used by about 85% of Texans – declared that we set an “all-time record for hourly demand” on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015. Specifically, peak demand for the Lone Star State reached 68,459 megawatts (MW) between the hours of 4 and 5pm, eclipsing the old mark of 68,305 MW from August 3rd, 2011.

But what does this mean to you as a Texas electricity customer? You just want to keep your family cool and comfortable in the middle of an extra-warm Texas summer! It’s much simpler than you might think:

  • Peak Demand basically represents a specific period of time when lots of people are using lots of energy. There is peak demand period every day, typically the hottest part of the day.
  • The issue with peak demand comes when people use more energy than is available on the market. These extra-high levels of demand cause prices of energy to rise on the market and for older forms of generation to kick into action to meet the demand.
  • If generation can’t meet demand, then ERCOT and utility companies start rolling brownouts – which means people temporarily lose power in order to make demand meet generation.

Thankfully, there was enough generation on the grid yesterday that ERCOT didn’t call an “Emergency Event” like they did last week. But there’s a good chance this might happen again very soon because of the predictions of triple-digit temperatures across most of the Lone Star State this August.

This is why forward-thinking companies like Direct Energy have programs like Reduce Your Use Rewards. We’re trying to encourage our customers to help the Texas energy grid when it needs help the most. By simply raising your thermostat to 78 degrees during the hottest parts of the day and using your major appliances less in those times, you’re lowering the stress on the Texas energy grid and helping us not set a new Peak Demand all-time high.

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