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ERCOT says power demand today could hit record for second straight day

ERCOT says it's made improvements to the grid that should be able to handle the triple-digit heat forecast through the weekend.

HOUSTON — ERCOT officials said demand on the state’s power grid hit a new record Thursday and it could happen again today. But they say the grid is up to the challenge.

“Today we’re hitting a peak that really we hadn’t expected to hit until August: 77,000 megawatts,” said KHOU 11 energy expert Ed Hirs.

Hirs says the contribution to the Texas grid from wind and solar is not as high as the previous week.

“That means that we need almost everybody else to be in the game,” he said.

Hirs told KHOU 11 if some units trip off, ERCOT may have to call for rolling blackouts.

CHECK THE GRID: Real-time look at ERCOT grid's supply and demand 

“If they do institute the rolling blackouts, it shouldn’t be more than the 30 to 45 minutes each, if you will, and across a very small percentage of the grid because it won’t take that much to get us back into good shape,” he said.

A spokesperson for the statewide grid operator told KHOU:

“ERCOT projects sufficient generation to meet possible record demand today. ERCOT is monitoring conditions closely and will deploy all available tools to manage the grid reliably. ERCOT continues to coordinate closely with the Public Utility Commission as well as generation resource owners and transmission utilities to ensure they are prepared.”

Peter Lake, Chairman of the Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT, told state lawmakers on the House Committee for State Affairs on Thursday they’ve built in a bigger margin of safety since the previous summer.

“We’re buying more reserves and adjusting the amount of reserves we have at any given time to real-time conditions, which was never done before,” said Lake. “A hurricane, a drought, a heat wave, for example.”

Lake told lawmakers he’s already seen results from those changes.

 “In the last 12 months, we’ve had at least six days where the grid reserves were so low that if he had not built in that margin of safety and those extra reserves, we would have been on the brink of rolling blackouts,” said Lake.

A spokesperson for CenterPoint Energy told KHOU 11 as of Thursday afternoon, ERCOT had not issued any calls for conservation, adding:

“In preparation for the upcoming extreme hot weather this weekend, we will increase Electric Operations staffing levels to respond as safely and quickly as possible to potential issues caused by high temperatures.”

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