VIDEO: ERCOT warns power conservation measures necessary

Published on Monday, 6 January 2014 11:24 - Written by

AUSTIN (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 is recovering and that blackouts are no longer being considered.

ERCOT spokeswoman Robbie Searcy said frigid temperatures across much of the state resulted in high electricity use. The problem was compounded by some power plants that weren't operating at full capacity. Searcy did not immediately know the reason for the limited capacity.

"Some generators had some challenges this morning with the weather and consumer demand increased significantly," she said.

Searcy said ERCOT is operating 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.

With cold temperatures to remain through Tuesday morning, ERCOT is asking consumers "to stay mindful of those conditions," she said, urging conservation measures that include keeping thermostats as low as possible.

National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Skwira, in Lubbock, said the cold snap is part of the same weather system that's brought severe cold to the upper Midwest and elsewhere.

Skwira said Lubbock was at 7 degrees Monday while some Panhandle towns had temperatures hovering at 0. It was slightly warmer in North Texas with temps generally in the teens, while South Texas had lows in the 40s.

"For West Texas we get these types of cold outbreaks at least a couple times of year," he said.

Updated Monday, January 6, 2014 at 11:24 a.m. CST