Electric grid straining, roads deteriorating
As temps inside and outside see a 40+ degree difference, it can create a heavy load on the electric system. Our local Medina Electric is expecting record loads, comparing the last cold snap like this to the one we saw over 10 years ago. ERCOT could issue rotating outages if needed (see more on this in separate article). Local officials monitoring road conditions in Medina County also urged people to “Stay Home.”
Medina Electric Coop stated: “We are anticipating record loads on our system. Our engineers and crews spent all week preparing the system. Crews will be monitoring the system and responding to outages.”
“If we all can make some small changes now and turn thermostats down a few degrees (and keep them down through Wednesday) it really could be those small changes that make a huge difference for our state electric grid.”
“The main threats to us locally are ice building on the lines (which can add lots of weight and cause them or poles supporting them to snap), icy roads making it difficult for crews to respond, and overloading on the system from heaters working overtime. That overload can also cause outages, and can make it difficult to pick the load back up when power is restored.”
The D’Hanis substation has already had issues from overloading.
“ERCOT makes the decision on rotating outages. They happened back in 2011 in February during a cold snap – you may remember that. I’ll send you an email I sent to all members that explains how they would work if they occur. I do want to be clear that ERCOT makes those decisions and they are a last resort.”
ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, operates the electric grid and manages the deregulated market for 75 percent of the state.
“We do not want to worry people but we want them to know what would happen if it gets to that point – ideally, everyone conserves now and no rotating outages will happen!”
“Part of the reason it causes such an issue is because all of us aren’t used to it! Heaters have to work so hard to keep up when the difference outside and inside are 40+ degrees. Also, many people have one heat source – we don’t have wood stoves and the things they do up north! Another issue is that many homes in our area have heat pumps which are extremely efficient … until it gets in the low 30s. At that point many of them go into emergency modes and require more electricity. That isn’t usually an issue here but with this weather pattern it will be. “
ERCOT warns that rolling outages could be necessary ;
conserve electricity through Wednesday, 2/17/2021
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas operates the electric grid and manages the deregulated market for 75 percent of the state. They have warned that rolling outages may be issued, if needed, and this would affect our area.
Medina Electric Cooperative explains that ERCOT controls these outages, and this is what you can expect if it gets to that point.
Rolling outages can be around 30 minutes, and it is important that you turn your heater and other large appliances to OFF position when the outage occurs.
“While you are without power, we ask that you turn your heating unit and any other large appliances or motors to the OFF position. Because those items use large amounts of electricity when power comes back on, turning them off helps prevent the system from being overloaded when power is restored. Overloading on the system can cause additional outages.”
Do Your Part
- Turn down your thermostat to 68°. If you can go a few degrees cooler, please consider doing so.
- 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, including washers, driers and ovens.
- 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 these conservation requests do not work, ERCOT could, as a last resort, be forced to implement rotating outages across the state.
Rotating Outages: What You Can Expect If They Are Implemented
If rotating outages are implemented by ERCOT, we will send a notification but the situation can progress quickly and we may not be able to give advanced notice. We ask that you watch our Facebook page for the most current information. You can also download the ERCOT app to track the demand across the state.
During rotating outages, you can generally expect your power to go out for 30 minutes. Following that, it will come back on until you are up again in the rotation.
While you are without power, we ask that you turn your heating unit and any other large appliances or motors to the OFF position. Because those items use large amounts of electricity when power comes back on, turning them off helps prevent the system from being overloaded when power is restored. Overloading on the system can cause additional outages.
If you need to report an outage, we recommend doing so through SmartHub (Online, SmartHub app for Android, SmartHub app for iPhone). The phone system is likely to be overwhelmed with calls.
Following the conservation tips above can help prevent rotating outages. Please understand that we are not saying there will be rotating outages at this time, but we want to prepare members for the possibility. We know that any outage is inconvenient and ask that consumers work with each other now to prevent larger inconveniences.