Despite record-breaking heat wave, PEC service remains undisrupted

Despite a record-breaking heat wave in Central Texas last week, Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) officials said service remained undisrupted.

A peak high energy forecast lasted from July 19 to 23, leading PEC to push out information via social media about conservation methods customers could use to do their part to prevent service blackouts, spokesman Mike Viesca said.

“We encouraged members and industrial and commercial customers to voluntarily conserve energy if they could,” Viesca said.

PEC did not experience any service interruptions as part of the peak forecast last week. While another peak is possible this summer, officials say current temperatures are not causing concern. 

But increasing usage is catching the eye of state officials, who have seen demand greatly rise as the summer has gone on. 

According to a report from the Texas Tribune, the Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) reached an all-time high peak demand of just over 73,000 megawatts between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. July 19 and July 20. Until last week, the highest demand ERCOT had was roughly 71,000 megawatts in 2016, according to the Texas Tribune’s report. 

According to ERCOT, which manages the flow of electric power to more than 25 million Texans, peak demand refers to the highest amount of electricity use on the system for each operating day, or when customers are consuming the most electricity. 

Under extreme conditions, it is possible ERCOT would need to take some extra measures to help maintain sufficient operating reserves, said spokesperson Leslie Sopko in an email. 

Rotating outages would be ordered as a last resort to help preserve the reliability of the system as a whole, if it came down to it; however, rotating outages are extremely rare and have only been implemented three times in the history of ERCOT. 

In April, ERCOT expected to have sufficient generation to meet summer demand, despite a forecast of record-breaking peak usage this summer, which ERCOT officials believe is driven by the “strong Texas economy.” 

“So far, our system has been performing as expected, and we have had sufficient generation to meet the demand on the system. We have not issued any appeals for conservation, but we will let the media know if system conditions change,” said spokesperson Leslie Sopko. 

Meanwhile, PEC askscustomers to try to curtail or at least reduce usage of heavy appliances such as washers, dryers, dishwashers and pool pumps between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

Officials also suggested that shades be lowered and thermostats be increased by 2 degrees. PEC followed those precautions in their own offices, Viesca said.

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