Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Statewide Electric Council Orders “Rolling Blackouts”

15-minute power outages “planned,” according to Oncor, ERCOT

As temperatures dipped into the teens throughout central and north Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) ordered planned electrical outages throughout the Metroplex, Waco, Temple and Killeen starting at about 6 a.m. today.

Power outages extended as far west as the Midland-Odessa area, as far north as Wichita Falls and Sherman, into the piney woods near Lufkin, and as far south as Austin.

The council controls 75 percent of the electrical power grid throughout the state, according to Oncor spokesman Jaeamy Molina.

Oncor said the intent is to make sure everyone has electrical power, despite the extreme demand and the expected shortages of megawattage.

Police in the three principal central Texas cities reported inoperable traffic lights, street lights and no power in businesses and homes. Some people were stranded in elevators due to power outages.

The rotating outages are defined as “controlled, temporary interruptions of electric service, typically lasting 10-45 minuts per neighborhood.

“Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes,” Ms. Molina said. “It is not known at this time how long the need for rotating outages will last.”

While hospitals and nursing homes are exempt from the outages, schools are not.

According to WISD spokesman Dale Caffey, “We will deal with the brownouts the best way possible and make arrangements for school lunches despite no power...Parents are encouraged to dress their children warmly because the school buildings will be cooler than normal.”

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