energy
5:43 pm
Thu August 4, 2011

Updated: ERCOT Lowers Energy Emergency Level

Update at 5:40 p.m. The worst of today's energy emergency appears to be over. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has canceled the Level 2B Energy Emergency Alert. However, ERCOT is still at 2A, and is urging people to conserve electricity until 7 p.m.

Earlier: The state's energy regulator said in a Tweet moments ago that there is now a "high probability" of rolling blackouts across the state. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas escalated the Energy Emergency Alert to Level 2B, meaning energy reserves are below 1,750 megawatts and continuing to decline.

ERCOT declared Level 2A at around 2:30 p.m., which triggered large factories, mostly along the Gulf Coast, to power down their operations in a bid to preserve energy reserves. It's the first time since rolling blackouts in February that ERCOT had initiated a Level 2A alert.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, ERCOT activated a Level 1 emergency, the lowest level, shortly after 3 p.m.  Today, ERCOT initiated a Level 1 emergency shortly after 2 p.m. Peak demand usually comes between 4 and 5 p.m.

If power reserves continue to become depleted, ERCOT will initiate a Level 3 emergency. This is the worst case scenario involving rolling blackouts across the state. Everyone can expect outages that are supposed to range from 15 to 45 minutes in length, although they may be longer.  Hospitals and other essential services are not supposed to lose power.

How do we prevent this from happening?  Turn off everything you’re not using and raise your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher.  Tell your friends and family to do the same. Here are more tips from ERCOT:

SUMMER EXTREME CONDITIONS: Consumers can help by shutting off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and delaying laundry and other activities requiring electricity-consuming appliances until later in the evening. Other conservation tips from the Public Utility Commission's "Powerful Advice" include:

  • 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.
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