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Rolling power outages are in effect across Texas including Dallas

Rolling power outages are in effect across Texas including Dallas

Dallas snow Feb 2021
North Dallas, February 15, 2021. Photo by Steve Meloncon

Electricity providers across Texas have begun rolling power outages across the state, due to high demand in response to the winter storm.

An announcement posted on Oncor's website says that the outages could last 15-45 minutes. They subsequently tweeted that the outages could last up to hours.

Due to record-breaking electric demand and reduced power generation as a result of the extreme winter weather, rotating outages are now in effect. Rotating outages are controlled, temporary interruptions of electrical service that rotate through different parts of the electric grid. These outages typically last 15-45 minutes in each area but may vary. Conservation remains critical and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) continues to urge all Texans to limit and reduce their electric use as much as possible.

According to WFAA, the rotating outages began at 1:25 am on Monday, February 15, and could be in place "until the weather emergency ends."

There are already more than 1.14 million Oncor customers without power as of Monday at 9 am.

The outages are in place due to an order from The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the agency in charge of Texas' electric grid, which has issued a level 3 emergency, because supplies can't keep up with demand. According to ERCOT's website, "reserves have dropped below 1,000 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes; as a result, ERCOT has ordered transmission companies to reduce demand on the system."

This is typically done through rotating outages, used as a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole.

Power companies recommend reducing energy usage from 5-9 am and 6-10 pm, the hours when temperatures are coldest (in the morning) and electricity demand is highest (at night).

Other suggestions include:

  • Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees
  • Keep lights off when not in a room
  • Unplug appliances not in use
  • Avoid using large appliances like washing machines, especially during peak times
  • Close off heat escape routes like drafty doors or fireplace dampers
  • Set your ceiling fan to rotate clockwise to force warm air downwards
  • Close blinds and shades at night to keep out cold air. Open during the day to allow sunshine in.

Officials said that demand could become even greater with record low temperatures on Tuesday.