SAN ANGELO, Texas — When the Electric Reliability Council of Texas released a “call for conservation” Monday — including a request that consumers keep their thermostats at 78 degrees or higher between the hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. — the response from many Texans wasn’t exactly as warm as the weather has been.
But according to an ERCOT press release, “Texans responded strongly by reducing electric demand.”
The request, which also involves avoiding use of large appliances and unplugging any electric items that aren’t in use, officially ends Friday, but temperatures could easily hit triple digits again by the end of the weekend and another call for conservation could be right around the corner.
But Blake Burchard, External Affairs Manager at American Electric Power Texas, says the plea from ERCOT isn't anything new.
“It’s something that has happened a lot of years, where ERCOT will reach out and request that people will curtail a little bit, turn the thermostat up. I think we’re just more aware of it now because of what happened in February,” Burchard said.
The power outage that affected around 750 San Angeloans earlier this week had nothing to do with tight grid conditions, Burchard said.
“Keep in mind, I was looking at our outage system, we’ve had very little trouble. I know the other night we had an outage, we had a problem with the switch and it was arcing over, so for our guys to go in and safely correct that problem, we had to dump some customers to fix the problem and then turn them back on. So we had a short outage but we fully understand after February, when the lights go out, customers get very antsy.”
Although ERCOT’s appeal to customers has angered many (as well as provided a good deal of memes for social media), it seems to be working.
“So the appeal from ERCOT is just to be more informative." Burchard said. "Because of that request, they can already see a considerable decrease in megawatts used.”
Burchard also recommended signing up for Smart Meter Texas, a meter data access portal established by and jointly managed by the ERCOT and AEP, among others.
“I think it’s very important that people sign up for Smart Meter. That will allow us to contact them if we’re going to have a power outage in their area if there’s a pre-planned outage. It’ll let them go in and look at the usage on their meter and just gives them more information. It gives them a better understanding and lets them play a part in what’s happening with their electric usage as well as what’s happening with their service to their home or business.”