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Texas Power Outages Looming Next Summer

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The winter cold hasn’t even taken firm hold of North Texas yet, but the state is already warning about a big problem Texans potentially face next summer: rolling blackouts.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it could be a decade-long problem.

ERCOT took a close look at the next ten years of power generation and released a report showing reserves will begin falling below the minimum target next summer.

For Tolar resident Lisa Barnes, going without power means going without everything.

“If it goes out for a number of hours you’re fine but if it goes out for a number of days you’re not fine,” said Barnes, who lives on a ranch in Hood County. “The pump on the well doesn’t work, you have no water, toilets don’t work, you can’t water your horses.”

Unfortunately, rolling outages could be in her future.

Over the next decade,  the state grid operator expects an even tighter capacity due to increased demand and the retirement of a number of generating facilities.

The City of Fort Worth is ready to respond.

“We are very cognizant of the problems with the energy consumption here locally in our metroplex, and we’re taking a lot of steps to make our city more sustainable,” said city spokesman Jason Lamers.  “We’re doing a lot of stuff on the sustainability side, and hopefully that will help us be better prepared for ERCOT’s warnings.”

Fort Worth has already installed solar panels on a few of its municipal buildings and changed its thermostats from manual to automatic. Last summer, the thermostat at City Hall was turned up and Mayor Betsy Price encouraged employees to wear shorts. All of the green measures are to help reduce the burden on the state’s power grid.

Hospitals and other trauma facilities are exempt from temporary outages.  But Texas Health Resources, which operates several major hospitals across DFW, actually volunteers to cut its consumption during power emergencies by using backup generators when ERCOT asks.

“It helps us, and it helps the community, and thousands of homes avoid that rolling brownout because we’re able to run our generator,” said Engineer Director Bill Upton.

ERCOT is looking at alternatives to rolling brownouts including expanding the number of businesses that can participate in the voluntary response program.

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