Power demand is expected to be a problem statewide throughout the day Monday and Tuesday — here’s how long each outage could last.
HOUSTON — Early Monday, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the agency that oversees the state’s electric grid, declared the state of Texas at the highest energy emergency level because of lower power supply and high demand due to extreme low temperatures during the winter storm.
Rotating power outages are now underway across the state, and ERCOT says “energy conservation is critical.”
With the winter storm pushing up the demand for energy, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has urged residents to conserve their power use as much as possible.
Demand is expected to be a problem throughout the day Monday and Tuesday.
“At this point, we really have no additional generation that we can add to the system to address the issues,” said chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas DeAnn Walker on Sunday. “So therefore it comes from conservation and demand management.”
ERCOT is asking consumers and businesses to reduce usage as much as possible through Tuesday.
“We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness. “At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units. We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to lower their energy use during this time.”
How long do rolling blackouts and rotating power outages last?
CenterPoint, which serves the Houston area, offers this helpful information: “Most every CenterPoint Energy metered customer will experience a rotating outage. Rotating outages could last from 15 minutes to more than an hour. Depending on the severity of the power generation shortfall, rotating outages may also impact customers more than once, and customers may also experience unplanned outages due to severe weather winter conditions impacting the company’s system. Customers who rely on electricity for life-sustaining equipment should have a back-up plan in place.”
Many people, however, have reported their electricity had been out for about two hours and counting early Monday. You can join that Facebook conversation here.
Austin Energy offered this info to its customers about outages: “Typically last between 10-40 minutes before moving to another circuit but can be longer depending on the event.”
The outages are “necessary to maintain the reliability of the system.”
Requests from ERCOT to reduce power usage:
- Turn down thermostats to 68-degrees.
- Close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
- Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
- Avoid using large appliances (i.e., ovens, washing machines, etc.).
- 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.
State officials also warn against burn gas appliances inside, as it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
There’s a real possibility of downed power lines, which could be live and dangerous, too. If you see one, you’re urged to call 311.
Gov. Abbott issued a disaster declaration for all 254 counties in the state ahead of the forecasted winter storm. He is also requesting a federal emergency declaration that will help with response to the winter storm as well as post-storm road repair.