Texas power grid operator issues alert as electricity usage approaches record level

High temperatures pushed the state's electrical grid to the brink of rolling outages Tuesday afternoon.

ERCOT, which operates the power grid in Texas, said the relentless triple-digit temperatures caused them to issue an Energy Emergency Alert for the first time in five and-a-half years. It has since been lifted.

There weren’t any rotating outages on Tuesday, but the emergency alert ERCOT issued is one of the mechanisms it uses to avoid that last ditch scenario.

As a piercing summer heat drove temperatures up, available energy in the state's electric grid began to dwindle.

Around 3 p.m., ERCOT issued a Level 1 Energy Emergency Alert.

The non-profit that manages the flow of power in Texas only issues the alert when it says there's a risk of rotating outages. It last issued an alert January 6, 2014, when cold weather pushed the system to the brink of rolling outages.

During Tuesday's alert, ERCOT asked people to cut back on usage until they lifted the emergency around 5 p.m.

"Everything we do is to protect against a blackout,” said Dan Woofin, ERCOT’s Director of System Operations.

ERCOT said back in May that it might have to issue emergency alerts after running possible scenarios for the summer.

“This summer, we are expecting the tightest conditions that we've ever experienced on the ERCOT system,” Woodfin said.

Part of the reason is the booming growth in Texas as energy providers try to keep pace with demand.

"We have people moving to the state of Texas. We also have significant economic growth,” explained ERCOT Senior Director of System Planning Warren Lasher. “We also have oil and gas industry that's growing in the Permian Basin. We also have an industry growing along the coast. We have chemical factories that are being built."

ERCOT says the peak demand on Tuesday was 74,181 megawatts. In May when ERCOT forecasted out the electrical demand for the summer, the forecast high was 74, 853, so it could still go even higher.