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Texas Under Power Warning

UPDATE: ERCOT downgrades request for savings, but urges conservation

By Richard Whittaker, 3:44PM, Wed. Aug. 24, 2011

ERCOT asks you to switch it off: As temperatures soar, energy generation reserves drop below 1,750 MW
ERCOT asks you to switch it off: As temperatures soar, energy generation reserves drop below 1,750 MW

Today Central Texas reached its 70th day of triple-digit temperatures, and the resultant strain on the electric grid has caused the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to issue a Power Warning. They are asking everyone to cut electricity consumption until 7pm. This is serious: If things get worse, we could be looking at rolling blackouts.

UPDATE at 6.10pm: It seems the request for reduced consumption worked, because ERCOT just ended the power warning. In a statement, Austin Energy communications director Ed Clark said, "ERCOT indicates conditions are normal, but encourages conservation."

Yesterday ERCOT declared a Power Watch, which basically meant they were monitoring the situation. That was triggered when they only had 2,300 MW in spare capacity. Today those generation reserves had dropped to 1,750 MW so ERCOT went to Power Warning. That means certain large-load customers will have clauses in their contracts triggered, allowing ERCOT to temporarily cut their power. The next stage is a Power Emergency, and that means rolling blackouts.

If you needed reminding, here are ERCOT's top tips for conserving energy:

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 pm to 7 pm

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.

Sad as it is to say, these are probably going to remain words of wisdom until this weather breaks: ERCOT is asking everyone to observe the 3-7pm cutbacks every day this week and through the weekend.
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