ETX is not expecting to see blackouts as energy demand increases

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Energy demand has reached an all time high, making this July the hottest on record. Aspen Power President, Danny Vines, says the worst is yet to come.

"The big demand in August will hit after school starts," said Vines.

Vines says the use of air conditioning this summer is straining the power grid.

"Air conditioning load causes a large increase in demand on the system," said Vines.

Last month, the energy grid peaked just under 66-thousand megawatts of power. The record set at the same time last year was nearly 360 megawatts lower. Power providers, like Vines, are calling on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, ERCOT, to bring more power plants on-line.

"I think ERCOT needs to be looking, down the road, there's not been enough new generation built to kind of keep up with the electric load growth here in ERCOT or in Texas," said Vines.

To keep up with demand, Vines says ERCOT needs to add at least two-thousand more megawatts of generation in the state. The recent openings of Aspen Power in Lufkin and Southern Power's biomass plant in Nacogdoches County may not be enough.

"In the grand scheme of things, not a large volume has been added by these two plants," said Vines.

They account for only 150 megawatts of power, far short of the two-thousand megawatts Vines says the power grid needs. Utility officials believe it is enough, though, to avoid blackouts in Texas this summer.

"I don't think that they are anticipating that happening. They have enough generation, I believe, that they've made significant planning for," said Oncor Electric Delivery Area Manager, David Collier.

We're told residential customers should not see an increase in the cost of their electricity because retail providers purchase their electricity on a contracted basis. However, you can help ease strain on the power grid by turning off your a/c when you're not at home, turning off lights when not in use, and limit the use of appliances throughout the day.

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