AUSTIN, Texas - The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is asking consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use as much as possible through Tuesday due to the severe winter weather impacting the state.
ERCOT is asking Texans to conserve their energy use from Sunday, Feb. 14 through Tuesday, Feb. 16.
"We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas," said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness. "At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units. We are asking Texans to take some simple, safe steps to lower their energy use during this time."
Here are some tips to reduce electricity use:
- Turn down thermostats to 68 degrees
- Close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows
- Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances
- Avoid using large appliances (i.e., ovens, washing machines, etc.)
- Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible
- Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes
- Given the prolonged, below-freezing temperatures, conservation measures should be implemented safely and within reason
ERCOT says it has the tools and procedures in place to maintain a reliable electric system during tight grid conditions. However, if power reserves drop too low, ERCOT may need to declare an Energy Emergency Alert, or EEA. Declaring an EEA allows the grid operator to take advantage of additional resources that are only available during scarcity conditions.
There are three levels of EEA, and rotating outages are only implemented as a last resort to maintain the reliability of the electric system.
ERCOT says that consumers can track electricity demand by:
- Viewing daily peak demand forecast, current load and available generation online
- Following ERCOT on Twitter
- Downloading the ERCOT mobile app from the Apple App Store and Google Play
The City of Austin, Travis County, and community partners have activated cold weather shelters. The city says that moving forward, cold weather shelters will be operating 24 hours a day for as long as conditions dictate. Those sheltering will be offered the opportunity to remain during the day and the upcoming nights. Those seeking shelter will be able to go to the Central Library at 6 p.m. to be transported to shelters.
Gov. Greg Abbott also issued a disaster declaration Friday for all 254 Texas counties in response to severe winter weather impacting the state.
Abbott's office says state resources are being deployed to help with local response efforts. The Texas State Operations Center has also been ordered to expand its daily operations to 24-hours a day through the end of next week.
Austin Water has shared tips for preparing pipes and preventing property damage during freezing weather and Austin Energy is working on power outages across the area. CapMetro says it has enacted agency-wide preparations to help keep riders and employees safe while also providing transportation services.
Track your local forecast for the Austin area quickly with the free FOX 7 WAPP. The design gives you radar, hourly, and 7-day weather information just by scrolling. Our weather alerts will warn you early and help you stay safe during storms