Energy Conservation
8:00 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Why Texans are using less energy than predicted

Controllers make daily forecasts of the next day’s electric demand and supply.
Credit FILIPA RODRIGUES / StateImpact Texas

A growing population and inadequate electricity supply has kept a looming energy crisis over Texans.  Rolling blackouts would come, or so it was predicted.  This month, a report from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) release its annual forecast of how much electricity Texas will have in the coming years, and thing don’t look so bad according to StateImpact Texas.

ERCOT has traditionally warned that there may not be enough energy on hand during peak times, like hot summer days.  This year, the was a different message.

“Our view is that the growth in peak hour demand on hot summer afternoons will not be as strong as we had forecasted in the past,” Warren Lasher, ERCOT director of System Planning, told reporters recently on a press call. 

Two things changed.  The amount of energy available is slowly growing.  Texans electricity use has stopped growing the Texas’ economic growth.

“We’ve been noticing a ‘decoupling,’ if you will, or a separation in the growth of demand compared to how it would track with any economic variable,” Calvin Opheim, manager of Load Forecasting and Analysis, said. “So our new model does a better job of reflecting that separation.”

Why are Texans using less energy?

They are increasing their energy efficiency.  Opheim said in some cases that’s because they’re required to, and also because they want to save money.

“When times are tough, people make changes in their behavior. And they actually reduced the amount of energy they use. They had to, they had impacts on their budget,” Opheim said. “But then when times picked up, they had learned these new behaviors and they retained their more efficient use of energy.”