An unprecedented winter storm has triggered the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to direct transmission companies to reduce the demand on the system, which is typically done through “rolling outages” or temporary interruptions of electric service. Other power interruptions, which lasts longer than the 20-minute rolling outages, are caused by downed power lines and other weather related problems.
The temporary interruptions began across much of Texas, including the Highland Lakes, overnight Sunday, Feb. 14, into Monday, Feb. 15.
“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness.
Rotating outages could be initiated until this weather emergency ends, which might last until Thursday, Feb. 18.
“This type of demand reduction is only used as a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole,” reads an ERCOT press release sent out over the weekend.
The demand reduction effects the Lower Colorado River Authority, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, as well as most Central Texas area electric providers. ERCOT manages the flow of electricity to more than 26 million Texans which accounts for about 90 percent of the state’s electric load.
PEC and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative are implementing steps to help reduce demand including service interruptions.
“These service interruptions will continue as long as the regional grid operator experiences peak demand,” PEC officials stated in a press release. “If an interruption occurs in your area, please take proactive steps for power restoration.”
This includes, according to PEC, turning off all electrical appliances affected by the outages as well as circuit breakers to major appliances.
“Once power is restored, members can avoid electrical overload by turning their appliances back on in 15-minute intervals,” according to PEC.
ERCOT also recommends turning down thermostats to 68 degrees; closing shades and blinds to reduce heat loss; turning off and unplugging non-essential lights and appliances; and avoid using large appliances. Businesses should minimize electric lighting and electric equipment use as much as possible, and ERCOT recommends large electricity consumers consider shutting down, or at least reducing non-essential production operations.
Conserving electricity should only be made as safely as possible.
Members can also report outages to PEC at 888-883-3379 and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative at 800-949-4414.
PEC members can also check the coop’s outage map.