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by JIM MALEWITZ

AUSTIN — The operator of the electric grid that covers most of the state called for Texans to temporarily curb their electricity use for a few hours on Thursday afternoon as record-breaking demands strain the state’s energy resources.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the grid, is asking consumers to use less electricity wherever possible between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday – a time of the day when demand typically peaks.

The request comes in a scorching-hot week when energy use has surged across the grid, breaking three consecutive July records. Meanwhile, a few power plants have unexpectedly shut down and forecasters are expecting less wind power Thursday afternoon, the council said.

“This is a precautionary measure to help ensure we can maintain overall reliability during this high-demand period,” Dan Woodfin, director of operations at the council, known as ERCOT, said in a statement. “Voluntary conservation, especially during the late afternoon and early evening hours, can help us ensure reliability throughout the ERCOT grid.”

The Council offered these recommendations for limiting power use:

  • Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances and electronic equipment.
  • When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans to cool the air.
  • When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun.
  • Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffeemakers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.
  • Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven.
  • Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or late evening, not during peak demand hours.

JIM MALEWITZ reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.

COVER: Grid technicians monitor screens at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ state-of-the-art backup control center in Bastrop. PHOTO by MARJORIE KAMYS COTERA/THE TEXAS TRIBUNE

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