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North Texas Could See More Rolling Blackouts

By Marianne Martinez, CBS 11 News

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – The demand for electricity could reach record high levels on Thursday morning, as temperatures reach a record low. Many people across North Texas will be struggling to stay warm. This means that rolling power outages could potentially return.

As cold temperatures rolled into the Metroplex last week, and the entire area was covered under a blanket of snow and ice, people became enraged when their power went out. The high demand for electricity late last week forced the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to coordinate rolling outages. This process, called load-shedding, is designed to take strain off of the state’s electric grid.

Although last week’s rolling blackouts were intended to be brief – approximately 15 or 30 minutes – several Texans reported homes without power for a matter of hours. It also did not look impressive to thousands of visitors in town for Super Bowl XLV this past Sunday.

The rolling outages only lasted a part of one day. Increasing temperatures and power conservation helped lessen the need for continued blackouts. But with North Texas seeing the coldest temperatures in 30 years on Thursday, ERCOT is warning people about the possibility of outages returning.

Officials with ERCOT have predicted record high electricity demands on Thursday morning, perhaps even higher than the demand that was seen last week. The agency has purchased extra generation capacity for the cold snap, but it may not be enough to prevent more rolling outages if demand becomes extreme.

To help prevent more rolling outages, ERCOT has urged Texans to conserve power, and offered some tips for doing so without creating dangerous conditions for yourself or your family. Keep the thermostat as low as possible and dress in layers or use blankets for warmth. Turn off and unplug any appliances that are not in use. Close shades and blinds to prevent losing heat through the windows. Do not use large appliances, like the dishwasher or washing machine, until later in the day.

Temperatures are often at their coldest around 7:00 a.m. and, likewise, the demand for electricity typically peaks between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. each morning. It is particularly crucial to conserve power during this hour in order to prevent the rolling blackouts from coming back to North Texas.

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preston smith North Texas Could See More Rolling Blackouts

Click the above image to see more winter weather photos! (credit: Preston Smith)

Comments

One Comment

  1. El says:

    1989 is NOT 30 years ago .

    1. Mike says:

      True, but the coldest temperature on record for Feb 10 in Dallas was 16 degrees in 1981, 30 years ago. It dropped to 15 today breaking that record.

      1. El says:

        True, but the article did not specify the date , only 30 years. Oh well I give up. Gotta wash my car.

  2. Barry Bin Inhalin says:

    I love the hand-wringing by the Left as they report the ‘news’. Doling out warnings and puplic-service like advice to like try keeping your own arse warm with a blanket.. DUH. Do they not see the direct correlation of not building power plants and not enough power to go around? Where’s that report?

    This, among many other reasons, is why one does not vote for Democrats. I just wish that the no-new-powerplant crew could be selected as the ones who get to ‘sacrifice’ and have THIER power turned off. We’d really see them wet thier pants at that point.

    1. Mark says:

      Typical right-wing replay, expect people to be responsible for their actions and decisions… don’t you realize Big Government can take care of you better than you can take care of yourself?? Look at what a great job Government does already. We tried to warn you about Global Warming and you didn’t listen… now here’s the result. We don’t need frivolous things like power plants, we need conservation to save the planet… do you have a compost pile yet? Juicer? People that work are just Greedy.. get on Welfare & Food Stamps and save the Earth! – magchat.com

      1. JOSHUA says:

        II DEMAND REPARATIONS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR SUFFERING COLD WEATHER AND BEING ENSLAVED TO THE POWER COMPANIES AND EPA REGULATIONS THAT PREVENT ME FROM FREELY ENJOYING WARMTH AND COMFORT.

      2. SA4Palin says:

        Careful Mark, some people will think you’re serious

    2. Harold says:

      What will happen when we get all of those rechargable cars that Mr. O wants?

      1. StainBuster says:

        Great point Harold. What happens when you plug your pluggable hybrid into a plug that has no electricity?

  3. youlie says:

    Please fact check before writing these stories. You make it sound like the Texas powered could not handle the demand. The truth is, the reason the first blackouts occurred was because several power stations had technical difficulties like busted pipes and had to shut down. otherwise we would have been fine.
    Also, Texas has been trying to build more plants in anticipation of growth, but the Obama admin has blocked every attempt. Why was this not in the article?

    1. CK says:

      Youlie, give it up – the MSM isn’t about facts or truth, just left wing spin. We had rolling blackouts at my house several times during the last storm. It was NO BIG DEAL – I wish all the whining would just stop – this isn’t the spirit our great state of Texas was built upon.

      1. Leah says:

        Youlie, you expect far too much from the MSM and the Left. They never let silly things like facts get in their way.

  4. Don says:

    And the libs want us to plug our electric cars into the grid. Great idea or what?

  5. Randell Turner says:

    According to a CBS News article a few days ago, these “rolling black outs” have much more to do with 3000.00 per KWH electricity than they do with demand! The day before those black outs happened, electricity on the spot market sold for about 50.00 per KWH. But, on the day before the black outs were put in play, the state raised the maximum charge for high demand electricity to 3000.00 per KWH! Suddenly there was a shortage and suddenly we were paying the max! All of this was done under the guise of “free market” utilities and it is following the pattern of California when utilities are “deregulated” so that we can buy electricity from whoever we want! Our present and past govenor has sold us to the utility company and this is probably just the beginning of our third world experiences when it comes to utilities! Create the need and then fill it, especially when you control the price and you can make millions with “rolling black outs!”

    1. Wayno says:

      That is completely untrue!
      Whatever money we made for the couple of hours energy was high-priced cannot compare to the money we lost when our plant was down. Get a clue.
      While you were whining about being without power in your home for a couple of hours, I was out in the weather for 16 hours straight trying to get our power-plant up and running again. We didn’t shut it down intentionally. Many instruments froze up causing units to trip offline. So we had to chip the ice away and thaw those instruments out with heat guns, and rig up lamps and such to keep them from freezing again. There were dozens of frozen instruments we had to thaw out in spite of our vast array of freeze protection circuits.

      So boo frickety hoo. I feel so sorry that you had to be without power for a couple of hours last wednesday. Now we are working 24/7 this week to try and prevent something like that from happening again. So far, so good.

  6. Randolph Knipp says:

    I really appreciate this comment. I wondered how on earth Texas, in the center of the petroleum industry, could have such problems, and it made me feel as if I were living in a third world country! I do think that the kabosh being put on business is contributing to our lack of power, and somehow we must get this business-killing administration out of office!

    1. JOSHUA says:

      TEXAS SENDS ITS NATURAL GAS UP NORTH TO KEEP THE YANKS FROM FREEZING TO DEATH…THEY SEND US THEIR WELFARE BILLS BACK.

  7. migtex says:

    Texas is great and would not have problem if King o – did not want to kill all electricity means – Throw the ball back to DC,

  8. Petra says:

    Sure is strange that TX is not better prepared for this

    http://mydietoptions.com/

    1. Wayno says:

      I know. You would expect a Gulf-Coast town with 110 degree summers and rarely below-freezing winters to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on freeze-protection to be prepared for a condition that practically never happens.

      If this happened to power-plants in Michigan I would chastize them for not being prepared. But Houston? Really? You’re really gonna crucify us for not being able to handle the coldest winter we’ve had in 10 years?

      1. Wayno says:

        People please stop believing everything the news tells you.
        They assume a lot without doing much if any investigation.

      2. StainBuster says:

        Houston? Plano is a suburb of Dallas. It gets cold in Dallas quite often. I moved to Dallas in December of ’83. The ponds and swimming pools were frozen over.

      3. Mike says:

        Not sure why the story dateline is Plano. The coal plant outages were downstate closer to Houston and Austin than Dallas.

    2. Powerless in Kalifornia says:

      This something you would expect from Kalifornia
      Not being prepaired and leaving everyone in the dark!

  9. Marfa says:

    This regime is not business friendly

  10. Alvin Walker says:

    So it looks like the boys from Enron are still around. This whole deal stinks to high heaven.

    1. rk says:

      Enron is still around, it’s called EOG Resources. (Enron Oil and Gas)

  11. Rich says:

    HEY what about my new electric “government motors” car. You folks need to conserve so I can charge the battery! LOL

    1. Mike says:

      You and the other 9 TX Volt owners should recharge overnight and there will not be any problems.

      1. JOSHUA says:

        JUST HOOK IT UP TO YOUR CELL PHONE POWER SUPPLY. USES LESS POWER IF YOU BELIEVE OBAMA…HE IS A TECHNOCRAT LIKE AL GORE IS.

  12. Transplanted Texan says:

    Free market utility…that’s an oxymoron. The time for a government-granted monopoly has come and gone.

  13. Dan says:

    Obama Obama Obama

  14. Walt says:

    Has anyone got a good handle on what the output of all the Texas wind turbines relative to maximum capacity has been during the recent cold weather? in the UK, during their very cold December, wind turbine output was about 1% of rated capacity.

    It would be interesting to know how Texas’ wind turbines are performing during this very cold winter.

    1. Mike says:

      The morning of the deep freeze and rolling blackouts last week, TX wind output was reported between 3,500-4,200 MW which was about what they were forecast and contracted for on that morning. That was about 7-8% of the overall supply, consistent with 7.8% average for wind in 2010 (coal & nat gas were about 38% each). Full wind capacity is reported at about 9,300MW in TX which leads the nation.

      1. Wayno says:

        Wind and solar and hydro combined will never replace coal and natural gas. They aren’t anywhere nearly effecient enough. Without government incentives they could never compete in the first place. And who pays for those government incentives? Right, we do.

    2. Schmedley Ewing says:

      If T. Boone Pickens is selling his west TX windpower fields do you really need an answer to your question?

  15. Foster says:

    “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” ~ H. L. Mencken

    http://911essentials.com

  16. Vidreiro says:

    Indeed, the boys from Enron are, in fact, still around and once again failing miserably. Since ERCOTs inception not only has it been mired in corruption (see the public record), but the grid in Texas has become increasingly unstable and unreliable. ERCOT needs to be opened up to the rest of the national grid to not only reinforce stability, but also to avail true competition within ERCOT ( in effect it merely comprises a caprive market), by allwing end-users to purchase power from, say, Oklahoma, where there is plenty of excess capacity and unit costs for power are ~40% less than within TX (ERCOT). Reliability my A$$……

    1. Vidreiro says:

      Just a P.S. to note that suggesting that current conditions are ” the coldest in 30 years” , apparently an assertion by ERCOT, is patently and demonstrably false. The real deal is that the power supply system in Texas has become progressively weaker and incapable despite the highest consumer costs in the nation — at any level you want to consider.

      1. Rob Johnson says:

        Really? I have live in Dallas since 1884 and I can not remember it ever being this cold for this long before. Of course memory has it vagaries but seriously this is very unusual to me

    2. Mike says:

      ERCOT does have interconnects to trade power with WECC to the west and SPP grid to the north and east, along with connections to Mexico. These need to be increased and there are some plans in the works for that like tres amigas. http://www.tresamigasllc.com/docs/ERCOT_TA.pdf

      1. Vidreiro says:

        Understood. However, these interconnects are microscopic relative to the system and may be largely ignored for practical purposes. I’d like to see 20-30,000 MW available from outside of ERCOT for reasons of stability and cost — BTW interconnections to TX are not simple –AC vs DC issues — the cynical part of me believes that this is by design.

  17. red says:

    its funny how in the summer in texas when everyone is using their a/c there is no problem,i would think more people use electricity in the summer than in winter here in texas . ercot is the next enron scandalj

    1. Mike says:

      True that there is a bigger summer peak power draw than winter. For this reason, winter is the time when generation plants are taken out of service for needed maintenance and repairs. This reduces available capacity to respond to peak demand like the record winter usage last week and this week (around 57,000MW) from the statewide deep freeze. Summer peak is around 66,000MW and only emergency maintenance is allowed then. The 3rd tier nat gas plants are brought online only a few days throughout the year for peak usage. In summer, that’s not a problem. In severe winter cold outbreaks, they’ve learned last week that nat gas shortages due to heating demand can cripple some of those plants if they don’t have enough gas pressure and they run into other weather related issues. Lose a few big coal plants unexpectedly and your emergency nat gas fired backup power can’t come online and you have record winter demand, then you have a shortfall situation like last week. When supply and demand get that close or become inverted, that creates greater opportunities for market manipulation.

  18. Hank Warren says:

    No money for US infrastructure but plenty of money to support endless Wars for Israel, it all started nearly a decade ago under a false flag attack.
    9/11 and Israel, here:
    http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000190526

  19. Greg says:

    I Like the way the show pics of a transformer and high tension lines. It really drives the point.
    /s

  20. Ken S. says:

    Now that they know they can get away with it and justify it with a lame excuse. You better get use to the rolling blackouts, it’s gonna happen in the summer time any time it gets above 95 degrees. Let’s face it they don’t care about the public and especially the elderly when they do such things. I suggest buying a gas powered generator and keep plenty of gas on hand.

    1. Wayno says:

      Next time you have a rolling blackout, and your home gets down to 60 degrees or so for an hour or two, and I’m out in the 25 degree weather hanging from a pipe-rack with a heat gun thawing out a level-transmitter on a boiler drum, I’ll gladly trade places with you.

      1. Wayno says:

        Sorry left out an important detail.

        I would be doing that work out in the cold to try and get our power-plant back up and running again during a freeze, so you can have a nice warm toasty home. Even though I won’t be going to my warm home for many hours.

      2. Leah says:

        If you don’t like it, go flip burgers at McDonald’s.

  21. speedy says:

    al gore told me this is happening because of global warming. the weather is so hot it feels cold. logical, right?

  22. Wayno says:

    Rolling blackouts are done so that instead of everyone being without power for a very long time, a few people are out of power for a short time.

    The plants that tripped offline during the freeze last tuesday night, and into wednesday (I work at one of them) did everything they could to stay online, and then everything they could to get back online. I worked a 16 hour day last wednesday out in the cold to help restore our plant. And I assure you as soon as it could run, it did.

    1. Mike says:

      Thanks Wayno for all your efforts to restore your plant and help prevent a international blackout like 2003 in the northeast & Canada. People appreciate the efforts of the line workers, sand truck drivers, Police & EMS, and all those who made it in to keep things going despite all the problems and challenges with the extreme weather. That said, we all need to vent frustrations when things are less than perfect.

    2. Mike says:

      Wayne, you have my compliments. We had rolling blackouts here (Lee county) in town only, and while it was a pain, it could have been a lot worse. Some of us do appreciate your efforts, and we do understand that getting a power plant on-line is no small job. For some of you complainers (not all), there’s this thing called backup generators that a lot of people can afford; if you’re that worried about the power, then forego the cable TV for a year and plan ahead a little. I have four kids and I don’t make a pile of money, but even I can afford a small genset and a kerosene heater to keep my house warm and the freezer running. It’s a matter of priorities and lifestyle. Stop beating up the guys that work all night so that you can sit on your rear in front of the tube in a warm house, and educate yourself about how things really work and what the real problems are.

      1. Wayno says:

        Thank You!

        I am just doing my job, and don’t need a cookie or gold medal or anything.
        I don’t even care particularly if I am appreciated for what I do. I just don’t want myself or the company I work for to be accused of intentionally shutting down to do some price-fixing, whenever the opposite was true, and we were doing everything possible to stay online, and to restore power once it was lost.

        If I had been home and I had a different career, I might’ve complained about the house being cold too. Hey I have a 2 year old and an 8 month old to add to it. Fortunately our house didn’t have any blackouts this time.
        But complaining doesn’t bother me. The accusations do.

  23. sipfle says:

    Buck up you cowboys. Thought texans were sooo tough! You still have your homes and your blankies. Use them. That is more than people in hurricanes and tornadoes have left. All I hear is whining about who is responsible. Maybe if you turn the heaters off on your pools you can make it. I have been at times without power for several entire days in Kansas and Iowa and without water for weeks in Iowa during the floods and we survived and didn’t whine so much really. I don’t remember anyone in Iowa blaming the government when the water plant was flooded. We just figured it out- and smelled pretty rank for awhile. The sun will come out tomorrow and hopefully your heat will come back on for good. Think of it as a time to cuddle and make some new babies…

    1. Powerless in Kalifornia says:

      My uncle back in Michigan had a great little wood stove with plenty of wood and a bucket of coal
      -50?
      No power?
      No problem!

  24. Vince says:

    All these states are UNPREPARED because the dumb municipal bureaucrats believed AL GORE when he said cold winters will be a thing of the past. That’s the price you pay for believing all the GLOBAL WARMING alarmists/idiots/liars.

    1. Wayno says:

      No, they are as prepared as they reasonably shoud’ve been. Unfortunately no one predicted this severe winter, and our preparedness wasn’t enough. Stuff happens. If anything last week our weak links were revealed and many of them fortified. This week we are handling the cold much better.

      1. Wayno says:

        Only extreme libs believe anything Al Gore says. And typically power-plant managers in Texas are not libs. Just sayin’ 😉

    2. Mike says:

      Vince, it isn’t a matter of municipalities believing that there are no more cold winters. Only someone in dreamland would listen to Gore and then make policy decisions on his advice. The municipalities are caught in the middle: They have nowhere to buy power and no transmission lines to carry it, and then people accuse them of lack of planning. No one mentions the EPA refusing to issue permits for new municipal backup power plants, or refusing to let natural gas producers build another pipeline. In the meantime, plants have to be pulled off-line for maintenance so they aren’t broken for months or years, and if you’re already running at capacity that means blackouts. You can bet that the municipalities are quietly cheering about this state’s decision to ignore the new EPA regulations on CO2.

      Here’s the situation: You need more power, but the feds won’t let you build new fossil-fuel plants and won’t let you build nukes. Wind and solar are so expensive that your customers will riot over the rate increases necessary to break even, the build cost is sky-high, and they can’t be relied on for the 99% uptime you have to have. Congress will haul you into hearings if there are blackouts and the feds will fine you for them. What do you do now?

  25. Powerless in Kalifornia says:

    What happened to Texas??
    This is something I would have expected from stupid Kalifornia!
    We all heard how Texas had the best system in the country!
    Isolated and over built! Ready for anything!
    Sounds like they need to build a few more transmission lines and a few more cheap Coal fired plants or a Nuke plant!
    If anyone can get it done its Texas
    Kalifornia would just remain bankrupt, cold and dark!

    1. Mike says:

      Try building a coal power plant when the EPA refuses to issue the permits because of “CO2 pollution”. Try building a nuke anywhere in this country, thanks to the paranoia and misinformation about nuclear power for the last 30 years. Try getting natural gas to your shiny new backup power plant when you can’t get a pipeline permit to cross state boundaries. Try building solar and wind at an installed cost of $8 per watt and charging your customers enough for the next ten years to cover the capital cost and operating overhead, and try explaining to them that the power won’t be on all the time because wind and current solar technologies don’t operate for 99% of the time (but hey, it’s “green” power just like everyone wanted!)

      We are already telling the EPA to go take a hike and we might get away with it, but what happens if we can’t?

  26. rowley says:

    Obama’s EPA is causing the rolling blackouts in Texas and will do the same when the Summer heat stresses the grid.
    Abolish the EPA and nullify all regulations. Restore control to States.

  27. R Sweeney says:

    Buy a generator… propane/gasoline/diesel.

    It’s what they do in the third world.

  28. Hammer says:

    I have worked in the petro-chemi industry for over 30 years. I have worked from Wyoming to Texas. These plants don’t just go down. A lot of these plants are old, but they have been updated thru strategic outages. The actual equipment is not 20 or 30 years old. What is happening here is a scam to drive the price of electricity up for immoral gain of money (guaranteed). That said, we do need to build more and newer power plants, if the government will allow it. You need to relay your concerns to your congressmen and tell them to let us build power plants.

    1. Mike says:

      They do go down when they freeze up. In this case, they were newer plants and this was the first time they experienced sub 25 degree temps for extended periods of time which highlighted their weak points. ElPaso Electric had similar problems as they lost all 8 of their units.

  29. kurt says:

    recharge your electric car while the sun still shines and the wind mills turns. Everyone else put you heads between you legs and kiss your sweetness good bye,

    God Bless Obama and the United States

  30. Tom Delay says:

    What happened to personal responsibility? Sounds like you people in Texas are a bunch of WATBs

  31. Tommy says:

    Well the electric company’s warnings aren’t going to carry much weight with people. Rather than turn their thermostat down, people are going to turn it up in anticipation of the next power outage. So in the end they’re causing people to use more electricity than normal because people are worried about when their heater is going to turn off next. Really this is something they should anticipate and have a backup plan for. How about building more nuclear power plants? The closest one is Glen Rose. Why can’t we stomp on the toes of regulators and get this done. We are Texas afterall. We are known for our energy resources. It’s sad that we can’t stand up to the fed and get what we need done in our own state.

  32. tdrag says:

    Why don’t you Texans quit complaining and get out your Solar panels and windmills. You’ll have all the power you need. If you don’t believe me, just ask Obama!

  33. MINNESOTANS 4 GLOBAL WARMING says:

  34. Steve says:

    That’s what happens when you don’t want to pay anymore fer your electric than you do…. They call it lack of infrastructure…… Give me a call we have a 20 yr old power plant just west of me looking for some customers. But, it’ll cost ya…… Giggle, gigggle

  35. Abe Froman says:

    In a deregulated electricity market like Texas, the most rational economic choice is to limit electricity generation and transmission so as to increase its spot price, and ya’ll get to pay.

  36. RobG says:

    Just wait until we have a bunch of electric cars on the grid. No one will have lights. We need to be drilling for oil and building coal fired power plants as fast as possible.

  37. John Decker says:

    What about all your so called wind generators its all about monies go build some power plants.

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