AUSTIN (KXAN) — During a Public Utility Commission of Texas open meeting Thursday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) CEO Pablo Vegas said they expect to be in emergency operations Thursday evening due to the extreme heat.

“We are expecting as we move through the peak this evening… to have extremely tight conditions,” Vegas said.

Earlier Thursday, ERCOT issued a Conservation Appeal from 3 – 10 p.m. due to extreme temperatures, continued near-record demand, and forecasted low wind-power generation.

“What we’re seeing is conditions that are more tight than what we have seen any other day this summer,” Vegas said. “At this time, it’s a high likelihood that we expect to be in emergency operations this evening.”

Going into emergency operations means the demand is expected to be at near-record levels, he said.

“We have very, very high heat again across the state of Texas,” he said.

Vegas said this high demand is from a combination of the very high heat, the very high demand and the low expected output of wind.

Conservation will be important Thursday during the afternoon and into the early evening, he said.

“Due to low wind-power generation and high demand, operating reserves for ERCOT are expected to be low for several hours this afternoon into the evening,” the utility said.

ERCOT requested Texans conserve electricity use, if safe to do so. This is a voluntary request.

The utility said it set a new, all-time, unofficial peak demand record of 85,435 MW on Aug. 10, 2023. In 2022, ERCOT said the August peak demand was 78,465 MW.

ERCOT alert levels

  • Conservation Alert: This is a voluntary request to reduce electrical use, ERCOT said. While ERCOT said it is not in emergency operations, it asks the public and “all government agencies to implement all programs to reduce energy use at their facilities.”
  • Energy Emergency Level 1: Conservation is considered to be critical. We reach this stage when operating reserves drop below 2,300 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes.
  • Emergency Level 2: Triggered when reserves are less than 1,750 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes. At this point, ERCOT can reduce demand on the system by interrupting power from large industrial customers who have contractually agreed to have their electricity turned off during an emergency.
  • Emergency Level 3: The final level hits when reserves drop below 1,430 MW. If operating reserves then drop below 1,000 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes and/or the grid’s frequency level cannot be maintained at 60 Hz, then ERCOT will implement “controlled outages,” also known as rolling blackouts.

ERCOT’s notification system

Anyone who wants to sign up for grid condition notifications via the Texas Advisory and Notification System (TXANS) can visit the ERCOT website.

ERCOT hopes the TXANS system will help increase transparency and trust, ERCOT President and CEO Pablo Vegas previously said.