SAN ANTONIO -

Power outages could be a problem in Texas this summer if power plants go down and temperatures skyrocket according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

ERCOT CEO H.B. “Trip” Doggett said the state’s demand for electric power has been steadily increasing, while the generation of electricity has remained stagnant.

"We certainly can see from our forecast that we'll have a tight supply this summer," Doggett said.

ERCOT is responsible for managing the flow of electricity throughout the state.

"Reliability is our middle name," Doggett said.

He said what has also been reliable is the steady increase in demand for electricity.

Over the last few years, electricity use across the state has significantly increased.

The state used 308,278 gigawatt hours in 2009 and that increased to 324,860 last year.

At the same time, there is very little growth of electric generation.

Few new power plants are being built and some older ones, like CPS Energy's coal-fired Deely units, are being shut down in 2018.

Power plants are also taken off line for maintenance.

If that happens this summer at a time when temperatures soar and stay there, Texas could be in trouble.

"We may have a situation where we have a period of extremely hot weather or above average outages of generation and in those cases, we might have to call upon the consumers to conserve," Dogget said.

If consumers fail to conserve during times of need, Dogget said blackouts are possible.

To avoid that, he said more power generation is needed.

He said the state's Public Utility Commission is working on that. Demand Response, where power companies can exercise some control over the power use of customers, is also deemed an important method of controlling usage.

ERCOT is continuing to assess climate and power plant conditions to see if anything can be done to shore up the system.

The final assessment for summer 2013 will be released Wednesday.

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