Rotating Power Outages Across Texas: Frequently Asked Questions

As the rotating interruptions continue, this is what you need to know.

Rolling power outages are in effect across the state of Texas as officials work to save as much electricity as possible during extreme cold and record demand on the grid.

Officials are asking Texans to save as much electricity as they can safely and reliably over the coming days, as record-breaking temperatures are expected to plunge the state further into a dangerous winter storm.

The demand for power is expected to grow even greater through Tuesday.

How long do the power outages last?

Outcomes are expected to last anywhere between 15 minutes and 45 minutes. Officials say they are “necessary to maintain system reliability.”

Will the power outage happen again?

ERCOT expects rotating interruptions to last all Monday morning, saying they could be in place until “the weather crisis ends.” The agency did not define what it would look like.

“Every network operator and power company is struggling to restore power right now,” said ERCOT CEO Bill Magness.

Below is an overview of how the agency decides when to go on rotating interruptions.

When the electrical reserves fall below 3,000 megawatts, a conservation advice is activated. This is where ERCOT communicates to the public and to power generators what is happening.

An advice is issued, but rotating interruptions are not yet necessary.

When reserves fall below 2,300 megawatts, Emergency Energy Alert 1 is activated. It is when ERCOT communicates to the public and to electricity producers that the situation worsens.

At this time, ERCOT imports electricity from other states and from Mexico. This happens regularly during the high summer months and is not new. But right now, because prices are so cheap and unrelated to the weather, ERCOT is already importing electricity from Mexico and other power grids.

Rotary interruptions do not occur in this step.

When the electrical reserves drop to 1750 megawatts, other steps are taken to gain additional capacity, but rotary interruptions are still not activated.

When the reserves reach 1,000 megawatts and they are not expected to recover within 30 minutes, ERCOT will then ask electrical suppliers such as Oncor and Reliant to start rotating power outages to reduce the load on the system.

ERCOT said the location of interruptions would be determined by each provider such as Oncor and Reliant.

What should I do when I lose power?

If you lose power, there are a few steps you can take to stay warm:

  • Close blinds / curtains, or put up blankets or towels to cover windows and provide insulation
  • Close the rooms to avoid losing heat
  • Stuff towels in cracks under doors, especially exteriors
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing, especially warm socks and gloves if you have them
  • Eat and drink food to provide energy to warm the body, but avoid alcohol or caffeine
  • If you have candles, lighting them can help act as a heat source, especially in an enclosed space. But do not rely on them, and remember to practice good fire safety.

RELATED: How to stay warm in extreme cold if your power goes out

Refrain:

  • Under no circumstances should you bring a generator inside. They should be 30 feet away from your home
  • Do not use stove or oven for heating, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning

RELATED: Map of power outages in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

How can I save power?

Experts explained that even taking a few small steps to reduce the power consumption of your home can help your community:

  • Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees
  • Keep the light off when it is not in a room
  • Disconnect appliances that are not in use
  • Avoid using large appliances such as washing machines, especially during peak hours
  • Close heat exits such as retractable doors or dampers (when not in use)
  • Set your ceiling fan to turn clockwise to force hot air downward
  • Close blinds and shades at night to keep cold air out. Open them during the day to let sunshine penetrate.

Reliant urges Texans in particular to reduce their energy consumption during peak hours between 6 p.m. 18-22 and at 5-9 in the morning over the next few days.

These hours are often the times when temperatures are coldest and demand for electricity is highest, officials explained.

And officials are asking companies and other large consumers of electricity to limit their use of electricity over the next few days to just essential production.

When should I report a power outage?

ERCOT encouraged customers without power for more than 45 minutes to report interruptions by contacting Oncor at 888-313-4747 or texting OUT to 66267 if they are registered in My Oncor Alerts.

If your power does not turn on again after a period of two hours, energy providers such as CoServ encourage you to contact them to report the outcome.

Texans are also urged to immediately report any shutdown power lines by calling 911, Oncor officials said. Crews are arranged across its service areas to respond to any issues.

How do I check for power outages in my area?

Oncor advisor Texans that they may experience more outcome rotations.

If you are an Oncor customer, Click here to check the map for local interruptions.

RELATED: Check the Oncor map for local interruptions

RELATED: Check the CoServ map for local interruptions

ERCOT also has a graph showing the capacity of the state’s electricity grid in relation to demand. To see it in real time and what the agency is predicting over the next 24 hours, Click here.

To see what power relations look like across the state, Click here.

RELATED: HOW TO: Keep your phone charged when you do not have power and save the battery now

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