February Winter Storms and Rolling Outages

As most Texans know, the severe low temperatures across the state Wednesday caused more than 50 generation units to go offline, triggering rolling electric outages throughout the day. ERCOT, the electric grid operator that covers most of the state, and each utility have rules governing emergencies like this.

The outages were certainly inconvenient for many and a hardship for some, but they prevented much more widespread and long-lasting blackouts.

“Severe weather has led to the loss of more than 50 generation units — more than 7,000 (megawatts),” said ERCOT at noon Wednesday. In a Wednesday evening release, ERCOT noted that “The grid continues to have more than 5,000 MW of generation out of service due to the effect of the extreme cold.”

Although many precautions are taken, a great number of events can impact the ability of a power plant to operate when exposed to prolonged extreme cold temperatures, high winds and freezing rain. Frozen tubing, coagulated oil and freezing in instrument air systems can all result in operational issues. In addition, pressure drops in natural gas supply lines caused by the freezing temperatures created problems at other plants.

Although the rolling outages ended Wednesday afternoon, ERCOT warns continued frigid temperatures may again require additional rolling outages on Thursday.

Until this extreme cold weather breaks, consumers should conserve energy. For now, ERCOT is asking consumers to reduce energy consumption during peak-demand times of mornings from 6-8 AM and evenings between 6-10 PM.

For the latest information from ERCOT, visit: http://www.ercot.com/news/press_releases/

For additional conservation tips, visit: http://www.puc.state.tx.us./ocp/conserve and http://TexasIsHot.org

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