Record high temperatures throughout the U.S. have led to fires, droughts, and even heat-related fatalities. Right here in Houston, residents find themselves in familiar territory – straining the capabilities of the ERCOT power grid.
The average July temperature here usually tops off at 95 degrees, but we’ve seen multiple days already this month that have hit triple digits, with the “feels like” temperature even more oppressive. As a result, Fort Bend County Judge KP George has shared the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT’s request to conserve energy, effective this week.
Peak hours for electric energy consumption are between 2:00 to 8:00 pm, testing the power grid that has been known to stumble and fail in years past. ERCOT has asked residents to raise their thermostats during this time.
This follows an outdoor burn ban issued in July. According to the National Weather Service, in a normal year, Houston sees 6 inches of rain in June; this year, we received only .13 inches, with July rainfall already well below normal. Each town has instituted its own watering restrictions. In Sugar Land, residents may only water twice a week and only from the hours of 8:00 pm and midnight. In Katy, residents may water up to three times a week between 7:00 pm and 7:00 am. All counties have advised that outdoor water usage for cleaning, power washing, or fountains be discontinued until restrictions are limited.
Dr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Chief Energy Officer at the University of Houston, explained the dilemma. “We should always be concerned because our energy generation and energy demand are pretty tightly synced. We don’t have much of a margin for error, and that’s the challenge we have — is the margin for error is extremely small.”
Dr. Krishnamoorti added that the Texas grid should hold up, thanks to wind and solar power. The enforced restrictions will hopefully make the difference and keep us all on the grid during the hottest Texas temperatures on record.
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