By Rebecca LaFlure

Killeen Daily Herald

While continuing high temperatures have caused a spike in energy usage across the state, local Oncor officials don't foresee any significant service interruptions.

"We have plenty of power plant capacity," said John Toone, Oncor Electric Delivery Company's area manager. "If everything runs like it's supposed to, we shouldn't have a problem this summer at all."

For 10 consecutive days, temperatures in Killeen have hit the triple digits, said Andy Andersen, chief meteorologist at KCEN-TV. Extreme heat is expected to persist throughout the week.

The sizzling weather has caused electricity demand to skyrocket. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the grid operator for most of the state, reported that the region's peak electricity demand reached 62,298 megawatts on Thursday – just 41 megawatts shy of an all-time record.

The heightened electricity demand was premature this year, ERCOT spokeswoman Dotti Roark said. Normally, peak demand comes in August, she said. Energy usage is expected to increase through August.

In order to meet the area's rising energy demand, Oncor has increased its energy-response staff to prepare for possible power outages. Also, Oncor constantly monitors, maintains and upgrades its equipment, Toone said.

"It's been real hard on our equipment, but we always try to beef up our system and have it ready in times like this," he said.

There have been some brief outages in the Killeen area, but Toone said Oncor has plenty of energy capacity to meet the area's increased demand.

Unexpected high temperatures in April 2006 forced power companies to implement blackouts across the state to prevent a regional outage.

Toone said though a forced blackout – similar to the one in 2006 – is unlikely, he urges consumers and businesses to reduce their energy consumption.

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