FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The cold weather on Tuesday morning had North Texans cranking up their heat for the second day in a row. Temperatures were well below freezing once again across the Metroplex, and the area hit a new high for power usage. In fact, all of that heating put DFW on the brink of blackouts.
Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s power grid, asked people to think about how heat use might put a strain on the area’s power supply, and conserve energy where possible. Alerts were even temporarily issued on Monday to warn Texans about the increased statewide demand and possibility of rolling blackouts.
A large number of people in Texas on Monday morning were turning up their heat and using electricity. That froze up the instruments which control two large power plants in North Central Texas, knocking those plants offline. The high demand nearly forced blackouts, but ERCOT was able to prevent that by importing power from the East Coast and Mexico.
Those two power plants came back online by mid-Monday.
A similar situation happened during the Super Bowl ice storm in February 2011.
ERCOT avoided this on Tuesday morning by once again asking Texans to cut back on energy use in their homes and businesses. Those conservation efforts helped, and all alerts have now been discontinued. An ERCOT spokeswoman said that there is enough generation available to meet Tuesday’s expected demand.
However, ERCOT said that Texas did hit a winter peak in usage on Tuesday morning hitting 57,277 megawatts. The previous winter record was 57,265 megawatts on Feb. 10, 2011.
Temperatures throughout North Texas will now be above the freezing mark for several days. But this is still just early January. Rolling blackouts — due to increased energy usage — last took place in the month of February, showing that the winter season is far from over, and another major cold snap could certainly be on the horizon.
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