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Xcel Asks Texas Customers To Conserve & Nightly Roundup

By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Xcel Energy wants its customers in Texas & New Mexico to conserve energy because of expected high electric demands and limits on its generating capacity.

The Amarillo, Texas-based utility is asking customers to limit electric use through 7 p.m. to reduce the strain on the power grid. Xcel says it should produce enough power to meet demand, but reserve margins could tighten as people use their air conditioners in the afternoon.

Xcel suggests customers turn off lights, computers and appliances that aren't essential and set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher if at home and at 85 if they leave the house.

The utility also recommends using major appliances and equipment after 7 p.m., when electricity demand is lower.

Heat Hard On Cars, Too

Triple-A Texas is handing out some "heat" tips for your car. Triple-A's Dan Ronan says temperatures of 100-plus can kill your car's battery.

Ronan: Batteries under the heat will undergo a chemical change in the inside of the battery. And the heat, in the extreme weather like this, will just grind a battery, and will really cause it, if it's anywhere compromised at all, to run into serious problems.

Ronan says Triple-A Texas has had a five percent increase in the number of roadside assistance calls over the past few blistering days. He says a large percentage of the calls were for "dead batteries".

Other hot weather tips: check the coolant - make sure levels are right, and make sure tires are inflated properly.

Trees on Dallas Levees Spared The Axe

Nearly four thousand trees along the Trinity River levees in Dallas get to "stay."

Last year, when the levees failed inspection, the Corps of Engineers told the city to remove all trees within 50 feet of the bottom of the levees. But officials have reduced that distance to 15 feet.

City of Dallas arborist Steve Houser says it's a victory for the city.

Houser: You know I often say the easiest way to describe it is trees clean our air, our water and our soil. They also add greatly to our quality of life and even our economic future.

Houser says the loss of thousands of trees would have made the city's proposed Trinity River development much less attractive. He says people want to live and play where there are trees.