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What Texas Businesses Owners Need to Know About Electricity This Summer

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There has never been a hotter month of May for the contiguous United States than the one we just survived.

For Texas in particular, this was the second hottest May (second only to 1996), and energy load exceeded 67,000 MW for the month, according to ERCOT’s ‘Summer Weather Outlook’ published on June 12.

Does a hotter than usual May make for a hot summer?

Chris Coleman, ERCOT’s meteorologist, says “it depends”. While Texas was drier than normal, a tropical wave sitting over the coast this week, as well as weather phenomena like hurricanes, could increase soil moisture, which would cool things down in parts of the state.

However, businesses would be wise to be ready in case a hotter-than-normal summer follows up an almost record-breaking May.

Summer weather patterns are still forming, so there are no guarantees, but Coleman believes that we are headed for a fairly normal hurricane season.

What is ERCOT's capacity in 2018? 

Texas businesses should also be aware of some operations updates to ERCOT. Under normal conditions, ERCOT is expected to have enough capacity to serve load this summer. But if anything out of the ordinary happens -- extreme weather or significant outages, for instance -- the grid could have reliability problems.

ERCOT issues notifications in these cases depending on Available Operating Reserves, which they measure via Physical Responsive Capability. There are four EEA (Energy Emergency Alert) levels, based on PRC. If extreme weather or other factors affect the Texas grid’s operations, keep an eye out for EEA alerts of escalating severity: ERCOT provides an updated communication tool  to help understand the different levels of alert. 

This system is in place to avoid blackouts. Advisories are put in place only when Physical Responsive Capability (PRC) drops below 3000 MW and is not expected to recover within 30 minutes;

ERCOT also issues Operating Condition Notices and Conservation Appeals during less critical shortages. There is a chance that your business will receive these notices from ERCOT this summer, so it may help to become familiar with them ahead of time.

How can I protect my business? 

Depending on how high summer temperatures soar, your business could not only incur significant charges, but could face issues relating to the ERCOT grid.

Thankfully, ERCOT has measures in place to deal with shortages. Savvy Texas businesses should keep an eye on the temperatures this summer and be ready to take the appropriate steps if necessary.

To make sure you’re ready, it might be a good idea to run through our hurricane preparedness checklist if you haven’t already. There’s no such thing as being too prepared!

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Posted: June 21, 2018