News Release

February 02, 2011

Power Emergency - Conservation CRITICAL - Rotating Outages Have Begun

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has instructed utilities to begin rotating outages to compensate for a generation shortage due to numerous plant trips that occurred because of the extreme weather.

Rotating outages are controlled, temporary interruptions of electric service, typically lasting 10-45 minutes per neighborhood.  The locations and durations are determined by the local utilities. 

It is not known at this time how long the need for rotating outages will last.

Consumers and businesses are urged to reduce their electricity use to the lowest level possible, including these steps:

  • Limit electricity usage to only that consumption which is absolutely necessary. Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
  • 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.

See more conservation tips at "Powerful Advice," Public Utility Commission of Texas:
http://www.puc.state.tx.us/agency/conserve/Constips.aspx

BACKGROUND

A Power Emergency indicates that the regional electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has instructed utilities to implement rotating outages to reduce load.

Rotating outages are controlled, temporary interruptions of electrical service initiated by each utility when supplies of reserve power are exhausted.  Without this safety valve, generators would overload and begin shutting down to avoid damage, risking a domino effect of a region-wide outage.

Rotating outages primarily affect residential neighborhoods and small businesses and do not typically include critical-need customers.

The outages are limited to 10-45 minutes before being rotated to a different neighborhood.  Some customers may experience longer outages if power surges cause equipment failure during the restoration process.  Customers can minimize power surges by turning off appliances, lights and other equipment, except for one task light to determine when power has been restored.

ERCOT REGION

The ERCOT Region includes Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Abilene and the Rio Grande Valley.  It does not include the El Paso area, the Texas Panhandle, Northeast Texas (Longview, Marshall and Texarkana), and Southeast Texas (Beaumont, Port Arthur, and the Woodlands).  Region map: http://www.ercot.com/news/mediakit/maps/index.html

HELPFUL CONTACTS

For Utility Information
Check your electric bill to identify your utility company or transmission provider.

Investor-Owned Utilities (Transmission & Distribution)
American Electric Power http://www.aeptexas.com/                                 877-373-4858
CenterPoint Energy http://www.centerpointenergy.com                           800-752-8036
Oncor http://www.oncorgroup.com/                                                          888-313-4747
Sharyland Utilities http://www.su-power.com/                                          956-668-9551
Texas-New Mexico Power http://www.tnpe.com                                       888-866-7456
Outside ERCOT Entergy-Texas www.entergy-texas.com                           800-968-8243

Community-Owned Electric Utilities
Texas Public Power Association, http://www.tppa.com/

Utility Directories
http://www.puc.state.tx.us/industry/electric/directories/Default.aspx

ERCOT Market Participants
http://www.ercot.com/mktparticipants/index.html

Conservation Tips
http://www.puc.state.tx.us/agency/conserve/Constips.aspx

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the flow of electric power to more than 25 million Texas customers -- representing about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. As the independent system operator for the region, ERCOT schedules power on an electric grid that connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and 600+ generation units. It also performs financial settlement for the competitive wholesale bulk-power market and administers retail switching for nearly 8 million premises in competitive choice areas.. ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. Its members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities, transmission and distribution providers and municipally owned electric utilities.

Contact
512-275-7432
media@ercot.com