Officials: Electricity Conservation Can Prevent Rolling Blackouts

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The state’s electric grid operator is trying to prevent rolling blackouts this week, but they say it’s up to consumers to make it happen.

The Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued an Energy Emergency Level 1 Power Watch on Tuesday and with temperatures expected to reach 110-degrees today it could happen again.

A Level 1 Power Watch is declared when the state’s energy reserves dip below 2,300 megawatts. One megawatt of power is enough electricity to power some 500 homes in Texas during normal conditions. But during a heat wave, one megawatt of power can only power 200 Texas homes.

On Tuesday, Texas was just 300 megawatts away from reaching a maximum usage point that would have forced the state to start shutting down big corporate users.

“This increase this year was just far beyond what we expected,” said ERCOT’s vice president of system planning and operations Kent Saathoff. “We got to around 2,000 megawatts reserves [Tuesday]. If we lost a 300 megawatt unit we would be at the trigger point.”

Oncor spokeswoman Catherine Cuellar says so far the grid is holding up. “There has not been the need for emergency rotating outages yet,” she said. “That is the last step, by the states grid operators, to prevent an uncontrolled widespread blackout.”

But with the extreme heat expected to continue all week officials fear getting too close to that ‘last step’. So, ERCOT officials are asking everyone to conserve energy — big and small.

“All Texans are being asked to conserve electricity in common sense, safe ways so that there will be enough electricity to keep everyone safe, especially as we’re expected to see more record breaking temperatures,” said Cuellar. “They can unplug their coffee maker or their toaster before they leave home. Any electronics or appliances that are not going to be in use while they’re at the office including cell phone and laptop chargers or televisions.”

Cuellar also suggests waiting until after 8 o’clock at night to run the dishwasher, washing machine, or clothes dryer.

WEB EXTRA: Reliant Energy tips on ways to reduce energy consumption and save money.

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.

The high demand on the state’s power grid could also mean a higher electric bill for you. To prevent blackouts ERCOT is buying electricity from Mexico and several U.S. states at a rate of about $3,000 per megawatt hour, which is very high. “That’s how the market works,” said Saathoff. “When you have shortages you have shortage pricing.”

North Texas has endured 32 consecutive days of temperatures at or above 100-degrees and is on pace to possibly break the record set in 1980 of 42 consecutive days.

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  • Todd

    If ERCOT did their job we wouldn’t need to conserve when the temps are 110

    • Tom Smith

      That is never an excuse.

      Exxmple: If we were a little more conservative there would not be 7 billion people in this world using up all of our resources.

      Conserve every day, starting with office buildings that leave all of their equipment running all night.

  • Frank

    As I recall, last winter, after rolling blackouts, ERCOT told us our grid and capacity were just fine and there was nothing to worry about. Guess they didn’t know what they were talking about.

  • Karl

    Todd and Frank: How much do you want to pay for power. Sure they could build more powerplants but you will pay much more. What if it was 120 degrees should they cover that as well. Conserve. Don’t do laundry, bake, or use unnecessary power at peak hours. Y’all are smarter then your comments. Think about it.

    • Frank

      Hi Karl, Since we pay the highest rate per kilowatt-hour of any surrounding state, we have plenty of incentive to conserve power all the time, which my family already does. That is not the point. Because of deregulation, there is little incentive to build power plants as reserve capacity. It is ERCOT’s responsibility to ensure we have reliable power for home and business. They failed last winter because they failed to ensure power plants were prepared for freezing weather – rolling blackouts ensued. The recorded high temperature for Dallas is 113 Deg F. So, yes, it is ERCOT’s job to ensure adequate reserve exists to cover that temperature. Energy conservation is something we should do every day, but ERCOT still needs to do their job.

      • Karl

        I’m not blowing any smoke. I am talking about right now, to stop any problems with rolling outages. We can argue/discuss until we are blue in the face. It will not help right now. What you can do right now is the question and I’ve given the/an answer.

        Worry about building, supplying, producing more power next month. Yes, build to produce more but TODAY use as little as you can so all of us can have what is needed. This has nothing to do with politics today, make it that later.

        See what I’m saying. Help each other and fix the thing when it cools off. We can at least do that.

      • Ask

        Karl is correct that we need to conserve due to the situation. Where Karl is blowing smoke is that fact that we have been placed in this situation by the failure to build power plants to keep up with the massive population growth of Texas. As more people move to Texas this is only going to get worse. Plus the EPA wants to close the coal fired power plants in Texas. In 1980 Texas faced a similar heat wave and there was a lot more reserve power and not this dire situation

      • Karl

        Frank: I realize Texas is hot in the summer. I have lived here almost 50 years. You do have to admit this summer is not the norm, yes, upper 90’s some 100’s but continuous 100+ days is an anomaly. Yes, we could prepare and build for 80 100+ days but is that really what we want to pay for, powerplants that sit idle for 95% of the time but have to be kept ready just in case? If you ask any other person outside of Texas they are envious. We have our own grid that is rarely dependant on anyone else. There is no other like it. OK depends on KS or MO or etc. They can have a spike and it does not effect us. I am willing to pay a little more to keep ERCOT seperate from the national grid.

        All’s that is being asked of us is conserve during peak hours. That’s really not hard. Don’t do laundry this evening, don’t bake a cake, leave the dishwasher until you go to bed. We have all become so selfish that we can’t conserve? If everyone were to do it there would be no problem.

    • Drunken Rube

      They can start by closing that dome in Orlando they’re sponsoring and use the savings to build more power plants. Oh, that’s EPCOT. Never mind.

  • texbrazos

    I have an idea. Since we have so many unemployed and over population problems. Why not create a way for people to go out and turn the electric turbines and get paid. Why not? People could alternate, 10 to 15 minues of pushing and rest? Pay around $10 to $15 per hour. Set up as many turbines as needed.
    Sounds like an out of the box idea. Clean energy and Jobs.
    I wish I had the funds I would set up a place to do so.

    • It's People

      Then, when the summer ends, the laborers can be converted to Soylent Green and solve the world hunger issue. I think we’re on to something.

  • Mandalay

    Why should I conserve, when some looser is going to use their share and plus what I conserve, while I’m miserable?? If I am at work or home, then what do I care if you force Six Flags or big corporate users like factories to conserve? It’s too hot to go there anyways!!! If you threaten blackouts, then you are going to force all of us to hoard and use all the electricity we can before you flip the switch!!! If you can do blackouts, then why cant the rest of us decide to not pay our bills when the electricity bill is too expensive? Can’t we also do a bill blackout?? Let’s play fair ENCOR!


    finally the u.s need MEXICO LETTS SEE ANYONE SAY SOMETHING RACIST ABOUT THAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Go Back To Your Third World Toilet If You Love It So Much

      Shut up, greaser. How’s that?

      By the way, LET’S has ONE T and an apostrophe, as seen in my sentence.

    • C Bauer

      Texas does not need Mexico for this. We can borrow power from other states, much like California has done many times in the past. Either way, we’re going to be paying “mini bar prices” for energy. That last bit was a Dennis Miller reference, for the fans.

  • Rick McDaniel

    So can keeping the infrastructure up with the population, and demand.

    Something they might actually want to be sure is happening.

  • Patriotic Girl

    How can the Mexico power be higher? TX is known for some of the most expensive electric anywhere. I think Six Flags can close 1 – 2 huge rides for and hour at a time, switch off so that people can ride other things. Unplugging a toaster is going to save about 1 penny a day. PLZ!!!!! What will they suggest next ? Unplug our refridgerators so that our food spoils? My washer and drier and fridge or HE/Star Appliance. Use about 20 something per applicance, and about 50 for the fridge / A YEAR!~!

    • Karl

      No, just don’t do laundry, bake and other power eating things during peak hours. How hard is this to understand. Just conserve during peak hours, very simple. You are wrong about the price. We are in the lower 50% when it comes to cost.

  • Common Sense

    Start with shutting down corp building FIRST so that the residential areas can retain power. The big corp buildings downtown can roll out their work loads to sister companies and back-up plans. Invest in laptops so people can work from home instead of the tower buildings that are sucking up A LOT OF of the energy. It’s just not fair for the little old lady down the street who is sitting in one room next to a window unit because the rest of the house is too hot and trying to figure out what she will do if they “unplug” her and the oxygen tank light goes off. I think the corporations will survive if they close down at 2pm instead of 6pm.

  • Jack

    ERCOT must think it’s customers are stupid. They have had years to prepare, yet never seem to quite get there. Now it’s the customers fault. What horrible business practices! I would be out of business in a week if I treated my customers like that!

    • steve

      Not ERCOT’s fault. The citizenry did a “NIMBY” wherever they wanted to build a plant.

      • Ask

        No TXU predicted this problem back in 2006. They said with the explosive growth of Texas a large number of new power plants were required. The liberals in Austin howled and said NO we are going green! That was one of the main reasons TXU divested itself from the energy generation side of the business. The winter blackouts were analyzed and the failure to winterize some new plants plus the failure by Ercot to provide an incentive for reserve power generation capacity were the cause.

    • Al

      They followed the liberal mantra of no new power plants

  • Karl

    All’s they are asking is that you conserve idiots. And yes you are STUPID if you don’t understand this. 110 degrees day after day is not the norm here. Jack don’t know what business you are in but there is no business that can afford to prepare for EVERY contingency. Do you have flood control around your business in case it rains 20 inches in a day??? Do you have back up generators at your business in case you do lose power, see what I’m getting at.

    • Ask

      Sorry Karl they did a lot better job in 1980. Power stability is a great deal more critical now given the requirement for information technology and automation.

      • Karl

        Ask: As I said above, worry about fixing it in Sept. when it cools off. It is what it is, there is no magic wand to produce more power. The only answer right now is to conserve. There is no arguement over the fact that we need more powerplants, we do. That’s not going to happen today. Conserve the next few days and worry about fixing the problem when this heat is over. Also as I said earlier, this really does not effect me, they won’t do blackouts out here. I am way outside the metroplex and killing power out here wouldn’t save them squat. Kinda like 10 city blocks in the metro for the whole county, I do work in Dallas, and they won’t black them out either. Not gonna black out Love Field.

  • Matt Chappel

    I’ll be damned if I’m going to be asked to “cut down” on something I PAY for. Everyone knows that this is ARTIFICIAL scarcity anyway…

    ERCOT has the resources to make this work… But they just enjoy making the populace squirm in order to make us feel desperate. Ladies and gentlemen… Get OFF the grid. Buy a solar generator, and start putting that 110 degree temperature to good use.

  • steve

    I don’t know if it was an interview on CBS11 or not last night but some ignorant blonde actually let the news crew film her thermostat that was set at 68. She was wearing a sweatshirt, for Pete’s sake! Pinheads like that are why we get rolling blackouts. She won’t do laundry or cook during the hottest part of the day but she keeps the biggest power hog in the house running non-stop.

  • bigdogag

    Power has been off at my house for over an hour. Oncor says should be back on by 6 PM…..if we don’t die first.

  • Karl

    Matt is the problem. “I’ll be damned”.

    steve is right. Turn the dang AC up a couple of notches and use less power so everyone can keep their power. As I said, IDIOTS, just conserve. Hell, it will help your pocketbook as well. Why would it be a conspiracy? They make more money when you use more power. It won’t effect me because I don’t live in the metroplex but I still have my thermostat set at 80 and we are saving where we can.

  • DallasCynic

    ERCOT is absolutely incompetent. Deregulation is a scam. Next election, next year remember this and ask the politicians who they will side with: ONCOR, TXU, Energy Futures Holdings or the voters.
    John Carona will not have my vote, nor should he have yours. He thinks that what happened in February -rolling blaackouts while JerryWorld kept on going – was just okay. And guess what, the utilities decide who gets cut off. Wonder if Big John got cut off? Of course he’d just get a genny like he did for his building in 2004.
    The Legiislature gave us and the utilities deregulation and the some of the highest rates in the country. The right legislature can take it away.

  • bill burns

    Coloreds in East Libert section of Pittsburgh have been rioting for days now. Nobody in Pittsburgh reporting the story. They are afraid of the coloreds there.

  • Brittany

    I am 8 1/2 months pregnant right now, and I am trying to use as little energy as I can. I have tried to keep my ac at 80, but I have become dehydrated and overheated, no matter how much water I drink, so I don’t drop it below 78 (which isn’t much better for me). When I leave the house, I up the temp to 85 to help save energy. We also save the dishes till we go to bed, and do the laundry once a week either earlier in the day or later at night.

    If they do rolling blackouts, I don’t know what I am going to do… Hopefully, if they do resort to blackouts, they can at least make a schedule so I can make plans not to be home while they are in going on. This heat is killer!

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