AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s called “TXANS”, and it’s a new way the Electric Reliability Council of Texas plans to communicate grid conditions to the public, launching as summer temperatures rise and energy use increases.
TXANS stands for “Texas Advisory and Notification System,” and ERCOT hopes it will help increase transparency and trust, said ERCOT President and CEO Pablo Vegas. People will be able to check ERCOT’s social media, website and sign up for email alerts about the grid’s status, including a new type of alert ERCOT launched called a Weather Watch:
- Normal Grid Conditions: No need to take action. Supply and demand are balanced.
- ERCOT Weather Watch: A notification 3-5 days out of forecasted weather that could impact the grid and come with high demand. People are urged to keep an eye on the grid and plan ahead to reduce energy use.
- Voluntary Conservation Notice: People are asked to conserve during a specific time if they can do so safely. It helps prevent emergency conditions but isn’t an indication they are happening yet. This happens when ERCOT forecasts high demand and lower supply.
- Energy Emergency Alert: There are a number of levels and this can trigger tools to meet demand. At the highest level, there could be controlled outages. It occurs when there’s a system-wide emergency supply and demand situation. TXANs will supplement energy emergency alert notices that are triggered by these.
The alerts will soon be available in Spanish, Vegas added.
Vegas said with population increases in Texas, the demand on the grid is growing at an “incredible pace.” Last year ERCOT set 11 peak demand records, with an all-time peak load of more than 80,000 megawatts on July 20. That’s more energy than the combined peaks of California and New York combined, Vegas said.
He noted ERCOT has safeguards in place during high demand, including a new ancillary service it can have online to help generate energy. He also added, unlike last year when heat led generators to postpone maintenance to maintain supply, many have already gotten their maintenance taken care of in the spring and are “in good shape coming into the summer.”
“The public is following ERCOT and how the grid is performing more than ever before,” Vegas noted.
There is already a way to check operating reserves and grid conditions online.
In February, ERCOT unveiled a six-day forecast tool on the Supply and Demand dashboard that provides Texans with an extended view of upcoming grid conditions.