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ERCOT: Megawatt Usage Could Be Near Capacity This Week

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - As temperatures continue to rise across the metroplex this week, there has also been a rise in North Texas energy use.

According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the agency that manages the electric grid in Texas, Monday was a 2013 landmark for statewide energy use. ERCOT Communications Manager Robbie Searcy explained, "We saw yesterday our peak demand top 60,000 megawatts for the first time this year."

Temperatures today are expected to top out around 98 degrees and CBS 11 Storm Team meteorologists have North Texas in the triple-digits by Thursday.

Despite high usage yesterday ERCOT officials said the Texas power grid isn't being pushed as hard as last year.

"Right now we're simply seeing demand levels a little bit lower," Searcy said, adding that the 60,000 mark, "…actually has occurred a little bit later than in the past couple years. We saw this milestone in early June, both last year and the previous year."

Naturally, demand will increase as Texas experiences more triple-digit heat. Searcy said as the summer heat continues ERCOT could start asking people to conserve energy.  "What we ask people to do is, when you do start hearing that supplies might be a little tight on the ERCOT grid, you may hear us ask for conservation during those 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. peak hours."

The ERCOT power grid has a total capacity of a little more than 64,000 megawatts and Searcy is predicting usage to be as much as 63,000 megawatts by the end of the week.

In addition to turning up the temperature on the thermostat, there are other energy saving steps that North Texans can take. Searcy suggested that, "If you're going to run large appliances, whether that be dishwashers, clothes washers, clothes dryers or those sorts of things, consider running those during a time other than those 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. hours when power demand is highest on the ERCOT grid."

The record for ERCOT energy consumption was in August of 2011, with usage for the day topping 68,000 megawatts.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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