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ERCOT Warns North Texans To Conserve Energy

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The forecast is not the only thing that is breaking records in the North Texas heat wave. Electricity use has seen a big jump as the temperatures continue climbing into the triple-digits. The record for power consumption was broken at about 5:00 p.m. on Monday evening, as Texans used more than 66,800 megawatts of power.

The state’s capacity for generating power is 67,000 megawatts.

Since the temperatures are showing no signs of going down this week, the agency that regulates power in Texas is warning the state to conserve energy or face the consequences. The Energy Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the electrical grid, issued a statement on Monday asking users to cut back on their electricity usage in the afternoons.

In the statement, ERCOT vice president Kent Saathoff recognized that the margin between generating capacity and demand will be tight in the coming days. However, he warned, generation outages could lead to ERCOT taking emergency procedures, such as cutting off power to industrial users.

If Texans do not conserve energy, ERCOT might begin the process of rolling blackouts, which could last anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes per neighborhood.

Texans are being urged to reduce their energy usage all of the time, but especially between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for the rest of the week, as this is when demand is expected to be at a maximum.

There are some things that you can do to make energy conservation easier. Turn off unnecessary lights, appliances and electronic equipment. Close the blinds and curtains at home, especially on the windows receiving direct sunlight. Set the thermostat to 78 degrees when you are in the home and 85 degrees when you leave. Use fans to cool the air, but remember to turn them off when you are not at home. Avoid running high-energy appliances like hair dryers, washing machines and dishwashers.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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