Texas power operator urges residents to conserve energy as major winter storm rolls through state

Power lines (Pixabay)

HOUSTON – The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the flow of electric power to most of Texas, urged Texans to conserve energy in an effort to keep demand from overwhelming supply Sunday morning as a major winter storm rolled across the state.

The storm is bringing freezing rain and cold temperatures to many parts of Texas over the next several days. The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings, watches or advisories for most Texas counties. The Houston area was forecast to have its coldest temperatures in 30 years.

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ERCOT said they are expecting the need to declare emergency conditions as soon as Sunday evening. While the situation remains fluid, conditions may worsen out of their control, including higher than expected usage because of the extreme weather and potential of outages.

“We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness. “At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units. We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to lower their energy use during this time.”

If power reserves drop too low, ERCOT may need to declare an Energy Emergency Alert. There are three levels of EEA, and rotating outages are only implemented as a last resort to maintain the reliability of the electric system.

Here’s how those work:

Electricity in different neighborhoods will be turned off for 15 to thirty minutes and then they turn the next set off and turn the initial set back on so any one group. They rotate through, a large number of people so there’s less impact.

Here’s how Texans can help reduce electricity use, according to ERCOT:

  • Turn down thermostats to 68-degrees.
  • Close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
  • Avoid using large appliances (i.e., ovens, washing machines, etc.).
  • Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.
  • Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.

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