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ERCOT Urges Texans To Conserve Electricity

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The freezing cold weather on Monday morning caused a scare for those in charge of electricity across Texas. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a power alert in response to the big chill, which dropped temperatures into the teens throughout the DFW area.

ERCOT is the operator for most of the state's power grid, and they sent out a first warning at about 7:10 a.m. to say that reserves were dropping. Then, just three minutes later, ERCOT issued a more urgent warning, urging consumers and businesses to reduce their use of electricity immediately. Failure to do so could have resulted in rolling power outages.

The council added that they also were taking steps to boost electricity generation. Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Monday, after taking this action to prevent blackouts, ERCOT canceled the entire 'Energy Emergency Alert' which was issued about an hour earlier. Still, people are being urged to conserve power.

"As long as we're able to still turn it on when we get home, I guess it's a good thing," said Dallas resident Anthony Correa.

"We have brought on all available electric generation and have deployed all demand response programs that have contracted with ERCOT to reduce electric use in emergency situations," said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT director of system operations. "Conditions appear to be improving at this time."

According to ERCOT, the emergency alert was issued after two large power plants in North Texas were forced offline because their instruments froze.  Both power plants that went offline are now operating again, but ERCOT is forecasting similar demand for electricity tomorrow morning and is still urging Texas residents and businesses to conserve power.

Although rolling blackouts are no longer expected, ERCOT is still trying to protect the grid. ERCOT released the following tips to minimize your electricity use until operating reserves are restored to target levels.

- Keep your thermostat as low as is comfortable, preferably no higher than 68 degrees.

- Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.

- Avoid running large appliances during peak energy demand hours (6:00 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.).

- Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.

- 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.

"This advice is being given by people who are sitting in warm offices," stated Dallas resident Colin Hatcher. "For the rest of us, if we're cold, we're going to turn up the heat."

"Pretty cold," said Dallas resident Joshua Taylor. "Doesn't feel like I'm in Texas right now. Feel like I'm in Wisconsin or something."

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