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ERCOT Delcares Level One Energy Emergency

Photo by Jessica Wang for KUT News.
Photo by Jessica Wang for KUT News.

Texans are being asked to conserve electricity as the The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) saw its operating reserves dropped below 2,300 megawatts due to the extreme heat.

“We are asking Texas residents and businesses to reduce their electricity use until 7 p.m. today,” ERCOT vice president Kent Saathoff said in a press release.  “We don’t expect to need additional steps in the emergency procedures today unless we lose a significant amount of generation over the peak period.”

Later, in a conference call with reporters, Saathoff suggested that students returning to school this week might have contributed to an increase in power consumption as districts turned on lights and turned down A/C systems.

If the situation worsens, ERCOT could declare a Level 2A emergency would would trigger large factories, mostly along the Gulf Coast, to power down their operations in a bid to preserve energy reserves.  But Saathoff said he doesn't expect that to happen today, because we have made it through the hour of peak consumption, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

In a worst case scenario, ERCOT initiates a Level 3 emergency, which involves rolling blackouts across the state. Local electric utilities implemented rotating outages of 15 to 45 minutes in length. Hospitals and other essential services are not supposed to lose power.

ERCOT has provided tips, listed below, for conserving in the energy emergency.

Conservation TipsConsumers can help by shutting off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances between 3 and 7 p.m., and delaying laundry and other activities requiring electricity-consuming appliances until later in the evening. Other conservation tips from the Public Utility Commission’s “Powerful Advice”  include: Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment. When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans in occupied rooms to feel cooler. When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun. Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffee makers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary. Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven. Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or evening instead of the afternoon.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.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.