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Grid operator again asks Texans to conserve energy

Electrical lines near Red Bud Isle in Austin on June 25.
Electrical lines near Red Bud Isle in Austin on June 25.

The manager of the state's electric grid is asking for Texans to conserve electricity until 9 p.m. Friday.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, said high demand and low wind-power generation are expected to result in tight supply reserves. An imbalance in energy supply and demand can damage the grid and lead to blackouts.

"Current forecasts are showing a potential to enter emergency operations this evening," ERCOT said.

This is the fourth conservation request the grid operator has made this month, as energy use has spiked because of the summer heat.

These requests don't mean a blackout is around the corner. ERCOT issues them to avoid going into the first of three energy emergency alert stages, each of which gives the agency other — sometimes costly — options to balance the grid. If energy supply remains insufficient after these options are exhausted, blackouts become a possibility.

While some have questioned the effectiveness of these repeated conservation requests, the grid operator said they are working. ERCOT said it did not have to declare an emergency alert Thursday because Texans reduced consumption by turning off large appliances and turning down their ACs. It also noted more wind power, rain in the Houston area and other factors.

ERCOT said it expected low wind-power generation and high demand to persist through the weekend because of the extreme heat.

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