The Austin Chronicle

Another Day, Another ERCOT Power Warning

By Richard Whittaker, August 5, 2011, 3:59pm, Newsdesk

For the fourth day Austin Energy and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas are asking people to cut power consumption until 7pm. Today's Stage One warning is better than yesterday's Stage Two warning, but still a bad sign for the power grid. They have issued a reminder about useful ways to conserve power.

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 to cool the air.

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 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.

Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric oven or range.

Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or late evening instead of the afternoon.

Quick reminder: The more electricity everyone uses, the more emergency generation capacity goes on-line, and the more power companies can charge the local utilities. As Forrest Wilder at the Texas Observer noted, the last time this kind of demand happened, some power companies ended up making a pretty penny off the scarcity.

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