The Electric Reliability Council of Texas ordered an end to the rolling electrical outages Wednesday afternoon.
The agency said the blackouts were needed to compensate for a generation shortage due to numerous plant trips that have occurred because of the extreme weather.
The blackouts were designed to last 10 to 45 minutes per neighborhood, but some residents said they lasted much longer. The locations and durations of the blackouts were determined by local utilities.
CenterPoint Energy said it began the rolling blackouts about 5:45 a.m. and an average of 330,000 customers are affected at a time.
“This is a statewide emergency and CenterPoint Energy is complying with direct orders from ERCOT,” said Scott Prochazka, division senior vice president of CenterPoint Energy’s electric transmission and delivery operations. “Although we realize this is an inconvenience for our customers, these controlled rolling outages are planned emergency measures designed to avoid potentially longer, and more widespread power outages. We will continue these rolling outages until we receive direction from ERCOT that the electric supply in Texas has stabilized.”
CenterPoint Energy said it predetermined which circuits/power lines will be taken off-line or curtailed across its entire service territory but has not released a schedule to the public.
Hospitals, nursing homes, water treatment plants and public service facilities are generally excluded from the blackouts.
ERCOT told utility companies to resume normal operations at 2 p.m., but the rolling blackouts could again be ordered, if needed.
ERCOT recommended business and residents take the following steps to limit electricity consumption:
- Limit electricity use to only what is absolutely necessary. Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
- Turn down heater thermostats to 68 degrees or lower.
- Reduce the opening and closing of refrigerators, freezers and doors.
- 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 nonessential production processes.
Traffic lights will be out during the rolling blackouts. The city of Houston said it has to reset the lights after the blackout ends.
The ERCOT region includes Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Abilene and the Rio Grande Valley. ERCOT manages the flow of electricity to about 22 million Texas customers.
Rotating outages are defined as “controlled, temporary interruptions of electric service, typically lasting 10-45 minutes per neighborhood.”