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Roundup: Rolling Blackouts Threatened Texas

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By Bill Zeeble & BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – It was another day of extreme high temperatures and power usage.

Thursday afternoon the Electric Reliability Council Of Texas issued a Level 2 energy alert, meaning there was a heightened risk of rolling blackouts.

ERCOT canceled the level 2 emergency at 6:07pm, stating the level 1 emergency will stay in place until the operating reserves return to higher levels.

Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's VP of planning & operations, expects demand to be lower on Friday.

Saathoff: "Electricity demand for tomorrow is expected to be lower, but we are still asking consumers and businesses to conserve through tomorrow due to the unusually high demand and the increased risk of generation outages during these type of conditions."

Electricity providers, like Oncor, in north Texas, are also asking customers to conserve power. Catherine Cuellar is with Oncor and says here's what you need to know.

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Cuellar: Critical care and chronic care customers need to be readying their back up plans now. If they have emergency generators, they need to be ready to use them. If its possible for them to relocate to locations that have electricity, now is the time to do it. for everyone else.. we're at the last step before potential controlled temporary outages begin to prevent a statewide blackout.

Oncor will update information via twitter and facebook.

Dottie Roark, with ERCOT, says there was a huge draw on electricity Thursday.

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Dottie: We have a little more generation that's unavailable today. And that can tend to happen when you've got a hot week like this, with this high demand. I'm sure all those generation units are running at their maximum capacity and when that happens it's kind of like your car's overheating.

Again, electric customers are urged to do all they can to conserve power. That means turning off lights and significantly raising air conditioner thermostats.

Richardson Does Its Part To Conserve

The city of Richardson used back up gasoline generators to power City Hall, the Civic Center and Service Center from 3 to 7 Thursday afternoon . It was an effort to help ERCOT avoid rolling blackouts because of record demand for electricity.

Richardson officials the generators will remove about 1 megawatt of energy demand from the local grid - enough to power 200 homes and their air conditioners.

Polygamist leader convicted of child sex abuse

Texas prosecutors say they will present evidence that a polygamist sect leader convicted of child sex abuse had 78 wives in addition to his legal spouse.

They said at the sentencing phase of Warren Jeffs' trial that 24 of those were under 17.

Jeffs was convicted Thursday in a case stemming from two young followers he took as brides in what his church calls "spiritual marriages."

The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints stood stone-faced as the verdict was read. Jeffs, who acted as his own attorney, stood mostly mute for his closing argument, staring at the floor, for all but a few seconds. At one point he mumbled, "I am at peace." He now faces up to life in prison.

Groups gather opposition to Perry prayer meeting

Civil liberties groups are gathering together in opposition to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's day of prayer and fasting this weekend.

The groups, which say they represent tens of thousands of Texans, oppose the governor's prayer meeting on Saturday because they say it disrespects the separation of church and state. They also complain that the groups organizing the event hold extreme positions on freedom of religion, homosexuality and the role of religion in government.

Perry has rejected the criticisms as unfair.

The Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is hosting an alternative event in Houston Friday night. The Texas Freedom Network sent Perry a letter signed by 10,000 people saying he is using religion for political gain. People for the American Way criticized the event for including intolerant groups.

Perry's surgery included adult stem cells

Doctors used adult stem cells to help Texas Gov. Rick Perry with his back surgery last month.

A spokesman said the stem cells were used in an "innovative way." The cells were taken from Perry's body and applied to the area where doctors decompressed a nerve and fused part of his spine. Adult stem cell therapy is different from using embryonic cells, which Perry opposes.

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved using stem cells to help people heal from surgery, but experimentation is common. Researchers do warn, however, of a slight increased cancer risk.

Perry has advocated research into adult stem cells. Since the July 1 surgery, Perry has worn a back brace but has maintained his work schedule.

Baby Boom At Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo is experiencing a "baby boom". Officials say there are a dozen new "arrivals", including a baby warthog, chimp, turtle, pit-viper and giraffe.

The Zoo wants the public to name the baby giraffe. The top entry wins a family trip for four to the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Entries must be received by August 21st.