If the Lights Go Out, Do You Know What To Do?
A year ago this month, an unusual series of events nearly plunged most of the state into darkness. A deep cold snap, coupled with failures at several power plants, led to rolling blackouts that surprised many electricity users.
The rolling blackouts, which lasted from minutes to a few hours, were necessary to help the state’s major power grid limp through the crisis, which was brought on by high demand from folks trying to stay warm paired with an unexpected loss of generation.
The possibility of more rolling blackouts—or worse, a complete failure of the power grid—is a real one, according to the grid operator for most of the state, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
As early as this summer, there could very well be more power alerts and more rolling blackouts unless more generation is built, an ERCOT forecast predicts.
If the call goes out for usage cuts, would you heed it? If the power fails, whether because of a grid emergency or storm, do you know what to do?
If a power emergency is imminent and an alert is issued, we ask that you cooperate. Switch off lights and appliances that you can live without. Turn the thermostat on your home’s air system cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. Every bit of power we can save in that situation could keep the crisis from becoming worse.
If the grid becomes overloaded and goes down, it could take many hours or even days for it to come back up.
If a rolling blackout hits your area, turn off everything that was running except one light. That way, when power is restored, you’ll know it. Leaving big energy consumers such as your air system or oven switched on could cause a surge that might blow a circuit.
If the power does fail for longer than a couple of hours, keep some of these tips in mind.
• If it’s cold, gather everyone in the warmest room in the house. If you have an alternate source of heat such as a fireplace, use it. But be sure there’s plenty of ventilation.
• Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep the cold air in.
• If you have a generator, don’t hook it to your home’s wiring. This can put your co-op’s service personnel at risk of injury or electrocution. Operate the generator in a dry, well-ventilated area and plug appliances into it.
We don’t expect the power to fail, and we at South Plains Electric Cooperative work hard to see that it doesn’t. But if the lights go out, we are ready. We want you to be prepared, too.