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UPDATE: We Came Close To Rolling Blackouts Monday; ERCOT Encourages Texans To Conserve Energy


Update, 12:51 p.m. Monday: The operator of the electric transmission grid for most of Texas is encouraging folks to conserve energy during this cold snap.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas had warned Monday morning that rolling blackouts may be necessary unless consumers reduced their use of electricity. An email warning issued by ERCOT said "risk of power outages exist throughout Texas."

But ERCOT later said the system is recovering and blackouts are no longer being considered.

UPDATE: Dan Woodfin, ERCOT’s director of system operations, addressed the media this morning about the power situation. Here are highlights:

  • ERCOT came close to issuing rotating outages. Peak usage today was recorded around 8 a.m., when customers consumed 55,486 megawatts – that was just about 2,000 megawatts away from capacity. ERCOT’s winter record was 57,265 megawatts during the February 2011 storm.

  • Two large generation units in north central Texas weren’t working early this morning due to the cold weather. ERCOT officials wouldn’t offer specifics on where the units are located. ERCOT says it issued an advisory Sunday that asked generator and transmission operators to review their fuel supplies and to make sure their units are winterized.

  • Customers are encouraged to conserve energy as much as possible. ERCOT expects high demand for electricity during the cold snap, so a conservation alert will be in place through Tuesday morning.

  • During a cold snap in February 2011, there were a significant number of generator outages due to the weather. “We’ve done quite a bit of work since then with the generator owners to develop best practices for winterization,” Woodfin said. “We haven’t seen anywhere near the same weather-related outages at that time.”

ERCOT says frigid temperatures across much of the state resulted in high electric use. Cold weather will continue tonight and Tuesday.
"We have brought on all available electric generation and have deployed all demand response programs that have contracted with ERCOT to reduce electric use in emergency situations," Woodfin said in a news release.

Catch up on the North Texas cold snap here.

Here are some tips from ERCOT to help save energy:

  • Keep your thermostat as low as is comfortable, ideally no higher than 68 degrees.
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
  • Avoid running large appliances such as washers, dryers and electric ovens during peak energy demand hours (6-9 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.).
  • Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
  • 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.

See more conservation tips at Power to Save Texas.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.