ERCOT warns conservation measures necessary

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm •  Published: January 6, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The operator of the electricity transmission grid for most of Texas said Monday that a power watch is in effect and that conservation measures are needed.

The alert by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas followed an earlier one in which ERCOT said that due to the risk of outages throughout Texas, rolling blackouts would be necessary unless consumers reduced their use of electricity.

ERCOT then modified its warning, saying the system was recovering and that blackouts were no longer being considered.

ERCOT spokeswoman Robbie Searcy said frigid temperatures across much of the state resulted in high electricity use. She said ERCOT was operating late Monday morning at an ideal level of just above 2,300 megawatts, which is the difference between what is being consumed and the amount that's being generated for deployment across the system.

But problems with high electricity use were compounded by the failure of two power plants.

Dan Woodfin, director of system operations for ERCOT, said the plants are in north-central Texas and were affected by temperatures that froze instrumentation. He declined to say where the plants are located.

Woodfin said if one other plant had shut down, rolling blackouts would have been necessary.

He compared the grid problems Monday to February 2011, when a wintry blast brought snow and ice to much of the state and crippled North Texas in the days leading up to the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium.

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