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Texas Grid Operator Urges Power Conservation to Avoid Outages

Photo by dan_a

Remember last month when the state’s electric grid operator said it would have adequate power supplies for the summer? Scratch that. It's too hot.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is now asking people to conserve energy after several power plants were tripped offline today amid unusually sweltering weather.

“The temperature is hotter than usual for this time of year, and we lost several generation units earlier today,” ERCOT vice president Kent Saathoff said in a press release.

ERCOT is entering what it calls “Emergency Alert Level 1” after its energy reserves dropped below 2300 megawatts. That allows it to bring on power from neighboring grids.

Level 2 calls for dropping large industrial customers who have been paid to accept the risk of interruption.

Level 3 requires local utilities to implement 15- to 40-minute rotating power outages. That happened over the winter when temperatures dropped and knocked several generators offline, prompting rolling blackouts across the state.


ERCOT is offering these conservation tips:

Limit electricity usage to only that consumption which is absolutely necessary. Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment. Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffee makers, pool pump, or other home appliances between the hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Close blinds and drapes on windows that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 80 degrees, and use fans to circulate the air. Use microwaves or outdoor grills for cooking to avoid heating the home. 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.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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