ERCOT: Controlled blackouts may not be needed today *Update*

*Update:* A second day of controlled blackouts may not be necessary, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said early Thursday  because “immediate concerns for the possibility of rotating outages this morning are reduced.”

The agency still asks that customers reduce power use until 9 a.m. to lessen the possibility of blackouts.

ERCOT  said it will continue to monitor the state’s electric grid for lost power generation. The grid still has about 3,000 megawatts of generation out of service because of the extreme cold.

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Texas grid operators are asking customers to go easy on the power usage Wednesday night between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday morning because of the “strong possibility” of a repeat of rolling blackouts that hit many hundreds of thousands of customers earlier today.

The grid continues to have more than 5,000 megawatts of generation out of service due to the effect of the extreme cold, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the main grid operator for most of the state.

Peak demand tonight is forecast to hit 54,900 megawatts between 7 and 8 pm.

The forecast for tomorrow’s peak load as of 5 p.m. Wednesday afternoon is 56,800 megawatts between 7 and  8 a.m. That would top ERCOT’s current record for winter peak demand of 55,878 megawatts, which occurred on Jan. 8, 2010.

Up to 7,000 megawatts of power plant capacity was unexpectedly knocked offline early on Wednesday, leading the a call for planned outages throughout the state to avoid a larger failure.

At its peak up to 330,000 Houston-area customers of CenterPoint were offline.

The power emergency was called off at about 1 p.m. as more power plants were able to come back online.

Power restoration may not be immediate,  however. CenterPoint spokesman Floyd LeBlanc said that outages that occurred today for more typical reasons — such as a tree falling on a power line — weren’t as easily discernible to the company during the power emergency. That means it may have taken longer to get work crews out to fix those problems.

Some of the suggestions CenterPoint has for conservation today and tomorrow:

  • Turn down electric furnace/heater thermostats to 68 degrees or lower;
  • Limit the use of electric appliances to only those that are needed most and avoid performing non-essential chores such as laundry and running the dishwasher;
  • Reducing the opening and closing refrigerators, freezers and doors.
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