AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Thursday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, declared the second "level-one emergency energy alert," this week.
The first alert was issued on Tuesday. Thursday's alert expired around 5 p.m.
It is also known as an EEA 1, and is issued when operating reserves drop below 2,300 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes.
Debbie Kimberly, Vice President of Customer Energy Solutions and Corporate Communications for Austin Energy says EEA 1 alerts call for voluntary conservation efforts, such as closing blinds, and cooking with a slow cooker or microwave.
Utilities, like Austin Energy, are also urged to deploy demand response events.
For example, Austin Energy, has a program where they can shut off old thermostats, and adjust the temperature of newer thermostats in households that have agreed to participate.
Austin resident John McDaniels says he participates in the program, and allows the city to turn his thermostat off when “the energy usage on the grid gets too high.”
“I think it’s something that’s real easy to do.” he commented. Noting that he has “hardly noticed” the adjustments, in all the years he has participated.
The city provides rebates to incentivize people to buy smart thermostats, and participate in the program. Kimberly says the city utilizes the program in the summer months -- and does not limit it’s usage to when EEA alerts are issued.
EEA alerts have three levels. The third level includes rolling blackouts.
Kimberly says “it’s really interesting to have experienced not one but two energy alerts in the space of a week.” She noted that this is the first time since 2014, ERCOT has declared an EEA level one alert.
“It means it’s hot, number one and consistently hot…..” she laughed. Adding, “...you’ve seen some plants that have been retired in the ERCOT market because they were older markets…. Typically what you try to get to is maybe a 12 percent reserve margin, and going into the summer ERCOT said we’re expecting only a 7 and a half percent reserve margins this summer. So, we knew we were going to be restrained because of those plant retirements.”
ERCOT said though the EEA alert has expired, conservation efforts are still encouraged.