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ERCOT asks residents to conserve energy; rolling outages being used as a last resort

Here's what you can do to help the state conserve during the cold weather

HOUSTON — With the winter storm pushing up the demand for energy, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday urged residents to conserve.  And on Sunday, ERCOT -- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas -- echoed that request, saying they may have to take emergency action if the reserve gets too low.

And demand could exceed the supply during parts of Monday and Tuesday, which could cause big problems.

RELATED: Arctic blast timeline: Winter storm heading for Houston area

"At this point, we really have no additional generation that we can add to the system to address the issues," said chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas DeAnn Walker. "So therefore it comes from conservation and demand management."

ERCOT is asking consumers and businesses to reduce usage as much as possible from today through Tuesday. 

"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."

These are the requests from ERCOT if you can do these without putting safety at risk:

  • 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.

If the power reserves drop too low, ERCOT may need to declare an Energy Emergency Alert, allowing them to take measures to reduce energy usage. Rolling outages is one of them, but a last resort.

Click here for more information on ERCOT’s emergency procedures during tight grid conditions.

You can track electricity demand at ERCOT.com.  You can also follow them on Twitter @ERCOT_ISO. 

RELATED: Gov. Abbott urges caution as severe winter weather impacts Texas

State officials also warn against burn gas appliances inside, as it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

There’s a real possibility of downed power lines, which could be live and dangerous, too. If you see one, you’re urged to call 311.

Gov. Abbott issued a disaster declaration for all 254 counties in the state ahead of the forecasted winter storm. He is also requesting a federal emergency declaration that will help with response to the winter storm as well as post-storm road repair.