Consumers asked to use less power as heat wave lingers

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WFAA

Posted on July 14, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 15 at 7:12 AM

Your air conditioning could stop working later today.

That's the warning Thursday from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the organization responsible for keeping the power flowing to most of the state.

ERCOT is asking consumers and businesses to reduce electric use between 3 and 7 p.m. as generating stations struggle to keep up with the demand during the triple-digit heat wave.

"We are expecting the statewide power supplies to be very tight over peak today, primarily due to the forecast for continued temperature extremes which causes higher than normal electricity use, and because of unexpected unit outages," said ERCOT spokesman Kent Saathoff in a statement released Thursday morning.

What can you do to help avert brownouts and blackouts? ERCOT offers these suggestions:

  • 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 to cool the air.
  • 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 p.m.
  • 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.

Saathoff said power companies are poised to implement emergency measures if demand for electricity exceeds the available supply.

ERCOT can call on power from other electric grids if that is an option. It can also cut power to large industrial facilities to ease a shortage.

If those measures fail, rolling blackouts of 15-45 minutes could be implemented.

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