ERCOT expecting high demand on electric grid this summer

It's not unusual for Texas summers to hit the triple digits and at that point everyone cranks the home A/C. That's when demands at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas go up.

"ERCOT is a non-profit organization that was established by the state legislature as part of the deregulation of the electric industry," said Warren Lasher, director of system planning for ERCOT. "It’s kind of like a flight traffic controller. A flight traffic controller doesn't own the planes, doesn't own the airport, but has visibility of what is going on, where all the planes are and where they need to go."

Demand fluctuates each year, but this summer, officials are ready for even more demand.

"This summer we are expecting the tightest conditions that we've ever experienced on the ERCOT system," said Dan Woodfin, director of system operations.

There are many more factors that go into peak demand than just hot temps.

"We have people moving to the state of Texas, we also have significant economic growth. We also have oil and gas industry that's growing in the Permian Basin," said Lasher. "We also have an industry growing along the coast, we have chemical factories that are being built."

If demand spikes, ERCOT has an energy emergency plan and resources they can use such as importing power from elsewhere, tapping into their reserves or rotating outages, which would shut down electricity, but it'll only affect consumers for about 30 minutes. 

"Everything we do is to protect against a blackout," said Woodfin.

With high usage expected, ERCOT hopes consumers and energy generators can all work with them to prevent a rare and unwelcome outage that could affect millions of people across the state.