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Oncor: Be prepared for extended outages to continue

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the governing body that oversees the...
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the governing body that oversees the electric grid in Texas, is requesting all Texans to limit and reduce their electric use as much as possible Sunday, Feb. 14 through Tuesday, Feb. 16.(KWTX)
Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 3:05 AM CST
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Oncor sent new information to media outlets Tuesday regarding the widespread power outages across Texas amid record cold temperatures with another snowstorm on the way.

ONCOR: EMERGENCY UPDATE

Due to ongoing record-low temperatures and generation, ERCOT has continued to direct Oncor and utilities across the state to drop power load through maintained controlled outages. These controlled outages are occurring across the state and the entire Oncor service territory. Oncor was able to rotate some outages overnight, but poor grid conditions have continued to prevent us and other utilities from rotating, or rolling, the entirety of these outages, leading to extended periods without power for many of our customers.

At this time, ERCOT is unable to predict when grid conditions will stabilize, and urge all customers to be prepared for extended outages to continue. We also urge customers to prioritize the safety of themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors. Tips to stay warm during power outages include: closing blinds and curtains and closing room doors to help contain heat, and stuffing towels in the cracks under doors can help keep the warmth in. Many local counties have also opened warming stations or shelters, which can be located online or by calling 211.

We recognize the hardships and extreme frustration customers without power face during these historical low temperatures and are ready to deliver power as soon as electric generators are able to provide it. As soon as enough generation is available, we will return to a regular cadence of rotating outages with the goal of providing any temporary relief that we can for those who have been without power the longest.

Additionally, our crews continue to restore equipment damaged by the significant winter storm so those homes and businesses can receive power as soon as possible. We have relocated crews, including mutual assistance contractors from out of state, from areas with limited damage to areas with more damage to make repairs as quickly and safely as possible. We are closely watching the coming winter storm that is forecast for Tuesday night and Wednesday to ensure that we have the needed resources to address any damage from the storm.

Monday update:

Oncor sent new information to media outlets Monday afternoon regarding the widespread power outages across Texas amid record cold temperatures.

Here’s the release in full:

“The Texas power system is currently facing an unprecedented shortfall of electric generation. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has requested Oncor and utilities across the state to implement controlled power outages to reduce high demand and protect the integrity of the electric grid.

The length of these controlled outages have been significantly extended due to the current emergency grid conditions and severe cold weather. These outages are taking place across the service territory and ERCOT has said they could be required through Tuesday. We are asking all Oncor customers to be prepared to be without power for an extended period of time.

In addition, we are responding to separate outages caused by the record-breaking winter storm that continues to impact our entire service territory. Oncor phone lines and reporting systems are experiencing a record influx of inquiries as a result of these two events, which may prevent customers from getting into contact with one of our agents.

Customers do not need to report their outages at this time. Our crews continue to make repairs from the storm so that when electric generation is available it can be delivered. We urge any customer who is experiencing a life threatening or emergency event to please call 911.

We are doing everything possible to respond to each of these power emergency events. We remain in close coordination with ERCOT and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we protect the integrity of the Texas grid.

FAQ’s

Q: Why is my power out?

There are two major issues affecting many of customers right now: winter storm outages and controlled power outages directed by ERCOT, which serve to reduce high demand and protect the integrity of the electric grid. Due to the fast moving nature of these two power emergency events, we are not currently able to break down the difference in outages on our Oncor Outage Map.

Q: When will my power be restored?

Given the unique combination of lack of generation and historic winter storm damage, estimated restoration times are not yet known. For outages related to the winter storm, our crews continue working around the clock to restore power. However, continued winter impacts such as extreme cold, treacherous road conditions and ice buildup is impacting progress.

Controlled outages related to grid supply and demand have been significantly extended due to the current emergency grid conditions and severe cold weather. In order to preserve the reliability of the grid, ERCOT has said that additional generation will be needed before power can be restored.

These outages are taking place across the service territory and ERCOT has said they could be required through Tuesday. We are asking all Oncor customers to be prepared to be without power for an extended period of time.

Q: Why are some homes out for hours and others for minutes or not at all?

Again, there are two major issues affecting many of customers right now: winter storm outages and controlled power outages directed by ERCOT. We are using all designated power lines for controlled outages so that hospitals and other critical infrastructure remains intact and system stability is preserved. This means that customers near critical facilities, or those in limited areas where rolling outages won’t take place in order to maintain grid stability, may not experience outages, while those farther from these facilities or areas may be out multiple times or for longer instances.

Additionally, during instances of substantial generation drop, there are safeguards built into the system that drop power loads automatically in order to prevent cascading widespread outages, or ultimately a blackout. These are designed to be shorter term drops that are reset quicker than controlled outages to prepare for the next response opportunity.

Q: When will power generation plants come back on-line?

Due to the severe winter storm, we do not know and it is outside of our control. Conditions for power generation continue to be very serious and the combination of winter weather and reduced generation is unprecedented in the state of Texas. We are prepared for emergency operations to continue for at least several days.”

Original story:

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is urging Texas residents to reduce electricity and ordered providers to begin rolling blackouts early Monday morning. Over 2 million customers went without power for short periods Monday morning as officials worked to conserve energy.

As of 11:30 a.m. more than 13,000 Grayson County customers were without power.

ERCOT announced they entered emergency conditions and initiated rotating outages at 1:25 a.m. Monday.

About 10,500 MW of customer load was shed at the highest point. This is enough power to serve approximately two million homes.

Extreme weather conditions caused many generating units – across fuel types – to trip offline and become unavailable.

There is now over 30,000 MW of generation forced off the system.

“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness.

Rotating outages will likely last throughout the morning and could be initiated until this weather emergency ends.

Oncor, the electric delivery provider for the greater North Texas area, said rotating outages typically last 15-45 minutes in each area but may vary. These outages have been proven effective at protecting the electric grid during times of incredibly high electric demand and low supply.

Oncor said some customers may experience longer outages if power surges cause equipment failure during the restoration process. Potential power surges can be minimized by turning off appliances, lights and other equipment, except for one task light to determine when power has been restored. Customers without power for more than 45 minutes should report outages to Oncor by calling 888.313.4747 or texting OUT to 66267 if they are registered in My Oncor Alerts. While it is not known at this time how long the need for rotating outages will last, Oncor will immediately notify customers once ERCOT determines these outages should cease.

“Oncor recognizes how unsettling rotating outages can be to our customers, especially in the face of this severe winter weather, and we will work hard to minimize the impact of these outages as much as possible,” said Connie Piloto, Oncor Director of Communications. “We ask customers to please continue to conserve what they can. We’ve heard firsthand from many of our customers about the conservation efforts they have made and we greatly appreciate everyone’s continued participation.”

Customers can help by taking the following conservation steps. Given the prolonged, below-freezing temperatures, conservation measures should be implemented safely and within reason.

  • Turn down thermostats to 68-degrees.
  • 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 (i.e., ovens, washing machines, etc.).
  • 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.

During these rotating outages, customers are encouraged to take safety precautions such as staying off the road as much as possible, checking in on neighbors – especially senior citizens and anyone with a medical condition – and having a safety kit prepared and accessible. Anyone experiencing a life-threatening emergency should immediately call 911.

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