May is National Electrical Safety Month. To celebrate, use the checklist below to inspect your home’s electrical system to keep your family safe all year long.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the electric grid operator overseeing the majority of the State of Texas declared an Energy Emergency Alert (3) at 1:20am Monday, February 15. This order mandates that all electric utilities, like Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU), curtail firm load on a rotating basis. This means utilities must turn off power to homes and businesses to fulfill the reduction in electrical demand that the order dictates. ERCOT only calls for this curtailment when there are no other generation resources available to dispatch to cover the grid load demands. This has only been called for three times in the history of ERCOT, the last time in February 2011. Previously, these curtailment events only lasted a few hours.
Since energy generation must match customer load demand in real time ERCOT performs planning and operations of the grid to ensure that the function stays balanced and stable. When this EEA-3 was declared, BTU’s obligation was for 9 megawatts (MW) of load curtailment. While this is not ideal, it is manageable, so outages were roughly between 30 to 45 minutes per customer. With ERCOT’s latest directive, BTU’s curtailment mandate has increased to over 100 MW, approximately one-third of BTU’s system peak maximum. This level does not allow BTU to rotate the outages properly and effectively leaves customers out of electrical service for extended periods at a time. This is a potential risk to the health and wellbeing of BTU customers due to unprecedented sustained low temperatures.
BTU must comply with this directive or potentially put the reliability of the entire ERCOT grid at risk. Defying this directive would also place BTU in non-compliance of market rules and subject to substantial fines and actions levied by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. BTU customers are encouraged to continue to take precautions for their safety and the safety of those around them. Additional freezing temperatures and potential for freezing precipitation linger through Friday. ERCOT has given no indication of the generation shortage improving until temperatures moderate.
Customers are encouraged to monitor television and radio, and BTU’s website for more information. Updates will also be posted on www.btutilities.com, Facebook (@BryanTexasUtilities), and Twitter (@BTU_BryanTX).