Texas grid operator: Cold snap won’t spark another power emergency
HOUSTON — Texas power grid planners said Thursday they’ve scheduled plenty of generating capacity to handle the bump in electricity demand expected as freezing temperatures again chill the state.
“We have taken steps to have some additional generation coming on line,” said Robbie Searcy, a spokeswoman for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs most of the grid.
In the early morning of Jan. 6, the grid came close to the sequential, regional power shutdowns called rolling blackouts as furnace use boosted power demand at the same time power plants unexpectedly experienced problems officials said may may have been related to the cold.
Forecasts call for freezing temperatures in much of the state Thursday night and in some places Friday night.
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The grid operator has scheduled more than 58,000 megawatts of power scheduled for the morning peak, which typically occurs around 8 a.m. Officials expect demand to max out at about 55,000 megawatts.
One megawatt is enough power for about 200 Texas residences when demand is highest.
The Jan. 6 event and a brief scare last Saturday raised questions about whether some power plants took adequate steps to ensure they could function in cold conditions.
Searcy said grid personnel have visited some facilities to make sure they’re ready for the cold. She also urged consumers to watch conditions and be ready to conserve power if necessary.
“We will be watching conditions closely and will take steps to notify the public if there is a need to reduce your energy use during the event.”
Also on FuelFix:
10 ways to slim your power bill this winter
Sealing air leaks with caulking and weather-stripping around windows helps keep out unwanted cold air.
Ceiling fans set at a slow speed with the blades angled down push warm air down from ceilings.
John Carl D'Annibale / Albany Times Union
Set your thermostat to 70 degrees or less, and several degrees cooler overnight. Lowering the thermostat by as little as one degree typically reduces heating bills by 5 to 6 percent.
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Turn computers and monitors off when not in use. Leaving computers on all the time can cost more than $100 per year on electricity.
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Closing heating vents in an unoccupied room can save as much as 10 percent on heating costs.
Tom Reel / San Antonio Express-News
Shut the door or try to minimize the number of times that doors to the outside are opened and closed. Each time doors are opened, cold air enters the house.
Kenmore / Associated Press
Air dry dishes instead of using dishwasher's drying heater.
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Don't let heat go up the chimney. Make sure the fireplace flue is closed when not in use.
Make sure that walls and the attic are properly insulated. Adding fiberglass insulation in the attic is one of the most cost-effective savings measures.
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Wrapping water heaters with an insulated blanket can save $20 annually for a gas heater and $50 annually on an electric heater.