Texans cannot be under rotating outage for more than 12 hours, commission orders

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has ordered that a rotating power outage for a customer cannot last more than 12 hours.

The commission's order was issued on Wednesday after some Texans had gone days without power amid wintery weather in the state.

On February 15, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued an Emergency Energy Alert Level 3 because electric demand was high and supplies could not keep up. ERCOT ordered transmission companies to reduce demand on the system. ERCOT says this type of demand reduction is only used as a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole.

MORE: ERCOT initiates rotating power outages in Texas

The commission said many customers that were subjected to load shed remained in an outage status for days.

"The expectation is that customers will be rotated through outages so that the burden is shared: that no customer’s outage will last so long as to precipitate endangerment and so that all customers shared this burden in as equitable a manner as circumstances will allow," the commission’s order says.

The commission says their jurisdiction for purposes of the order extends only to entities that meet the definition of transmission and distribution utility, which expressly does not include a municipally owned utility or an electric cooperative.

"For these reasons, the commission orders all TDUs in the ERCOT region to rotate customers that are properly subject to curtailment under EEA3 in a manner that no such customer is subjected to an outage of more than 12 hours," the order says.

As of 7 a.m. Thursday, Utility tracker PowerOutage reported more than 551,000 Texans are without power. That number was down from the 4.4 million outages that were reported in the state on Tuesday.