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Outages and Power Abuse: What Every Texas Resident Should Do

September 1, 2011

The series of recent electricity grid emergencies announced by Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) was brought about by the surging heat wave experienced in the state during the early periods of August. At least 20 power plants ceased operations as record levels of  Texas electricity usage brought the state to the brink of rolling outages.

The Texas electricity grid operator had no choice but to seek help from their customers, urging the public to monitor and conserve their consumption of electricity as called for during a level 1 emergency. When the heat waves persisted for several more days and Texas electricity demand continued to soar, ERCOT had to elevate the grid emergency to level two asking large customers such as big companies and large refineries – which paid to be dropped during a level 2 emergency – to shut down.

Now that the Level 2 Texas electricity emergency has been cancelled, ERCOT continues to encourage the public to observe energy conservation measures until conditions indicate that everything in the grid is completely back to normal.

Texas Electricity Conservation Tips

In an energy deregulated electricity market, Texas residents have the power to choose energy options. However, it is also a responsibility of every Texas consumer to establish conservation efforts within their own homes or places of operation – until relatively cheap electricity are made much more abundant for the public.

ERCOT officials and the Public Utility Commission of Texas urged consumers to do their share in energy conservation and have provided the following lists of conservation tips that they can follow and implement:

  • Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
  • When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans in occupied rooms to feel cooler.
  • When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun.
  • Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffee makers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 to 7 pm.
  • Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.
  • Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven.
  • Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or evening instead of the afternoon.
  • 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.

When Someone is Abusing their Use of Texas Electricity

Even in the midst of an electrical emergency, there are still insensitive and uncooperative people who continue to waste Texas electricity even when other people, and even companies for that matter, try considerable effort to conserve energy.

There were reports of people turning their thermostats down below 70, when the public call was to push the settings up to 78. This is not only true for some homes but also at certain shopping centers, theaters and office buildings whose temperature settings were unreasonably cold or they continue to use so many lights even when there are no immediate need for them.

The Texas electricity emergency is a serious situation that everyone, particularly those who abuse their use of electricity, should seriously consider – or else suffer the consequences and endure rolling black outs that could last from a few minutes to several hours at a time.

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