Consumers and businesses are encouraged to reduce their electricity use during peak demand hours over the next few days from 6-9 a.m. and 4-8 p.m. to help reduce the risk of electricity emergencies or the need for rotating outages.

“The National Weather Service is anticipating severe cold weather statewide this week, as another arctic air mass is expected to reach deep into Texas, dropping temperatures back into the teens and twenties,” said Trip Doggett, CEO, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid operator for the state.

“In anticipation of this severe cold weather, ERCOT will procure additional generation capacity for real-time operations to help maintain reliable delivery of power during this extreme weather event over the next few days,” he said.

Wednesday’s peak demand is projected to be more than 54,000 MW between 8-9 p.m. and more than 58,000 – which would be a new winter record – between 7-8 a.m. Thursday. The current winter peak demand record is 56,334 MW, which occurred Feb. 3, between 7 and 8 a.m.

The grid continues to have about 2,700 MW of generation capacity unavailable because of unplanned or forced outages.

“Although we have no immediate concerns for the possibility of rotating outages tomorrow morning, ERCOT will be monitoring the grid closely because additional unexpected major losses of generation could force operators and utilities to begin emergency procedures to avoid an uncontrolled statewide blackout,” Doggett said. “Rotating outages are ordered only as a last resort to ensure the security of the statewide transmission grid. “

Conservation tips

Turn thermostats to 68 degrees or below in the daytime and to 55 degrees at night or when leaving for the day.

Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.

Avoid running large appliances such as washers, dryers and electric ovens during peak energy demand hours.

Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.

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.

See more conservation tips on the Public Utility Commission of Texas website www.puc.state.tx.us./ocp/conserve under “Powerful Advice.”

Rotating outages background

Rotating outages are controlled, temporary interruptions of electrical service, initiated by ERCOT when the power needed to run the grid is not matched by the power being provided by generation companies. In these situations, ERCOT instructs utilities to reduce consumer demand on the grid by conducting temporary outages at the local distribution level. The utilities determine the locations and durations of the rotating outages.

While each transmission/distribution service provider submits an emergency plan to ERCOT, ERCOT has no control over, nor knowledge of, individual customer outages.

Who to call for outage information?

For information about how the utilities implement rotating outages and exemptions, call the transmission and distribution service provider on your electric bill. To reach the Public Utility Commission consumer assistance hotline, call 1-888-782-8777.

The ERCOT Region includes Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Abilene and the Rio Grande Valley. It does not include the El Paso area, the Texas Panhandle, Northeast Texas (Longview, Marshall and Texarkana) and Southeast Texas (Beaumont, Port Arthur and the Woodlands).

To sign up for news releases, go to http://lists.ercot.com and select “News_Bulletins.”