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Cold temperatures, coupled with high use of electricity, have prompted the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to announce an energy emergency alert and to implement the first two stages of its steps to protect the grid.

Power warnings are issued by the regional electric grid operator when it’s likely that rotating outages will be needed.

"We have brought on all available electric generation and have deployed all demand response programs that have contracted with ERCOT to reduce electric use in emergency situations," said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT director of system operations. "Conditions appear to be improving at this time, and we do not expect to implement rotating outages this morning.”

Rotating outages are controlled, temporary interruptions of electrical service initiated by each utility when supplies of reserve power are exhausted. Without this safety precaution, generators would overload and begin shutting down to avoid damage, risking a domino effect and a region-wide outage.

Rotating outages primarily affect residential neighborhoods and small businesses, but do not typically include critical-need customers such as hospitals and nursing homes.

The outages are typically limited to 10 to 45 minutes before being rotated to a different neighborhood. Some customers may experience longer outages if power surges cause equipment failure during the restoration process.

Customers can minimize power surges by turning off appliances, lights and other equipment, except for one task light to determine when power has been restored.

Customers are also encouraged to help out until reserves are restored to target levels by:

  • Keeping their thermostats as low as comfortable, preferably no higher than 68 degrees.
  • Turning off and unplugging non-essential lights and appliances.
  • Avoiding running large appliances such as washers, dryers and electric ovens during peak demand hours (6-9 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.).
  • Closing shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat loss through windows.
  • Businesses should minimize their 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.

For more information and conservation tip, visit powertosavetexas.org.

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