(San Antonio, Texas) – February 15, 2021 – To keep the energy grid balanced and functioning, utility companies must keep the demand for power from its customers below the level of their total generating capacity. When the temperatures dip to single digits –without the impacts of wind chill– and even colder with those effects applied, customers’ demand for energy understandably increases. However, the increase in energy demand does not automatically increase the supply of generating capacity.
Freezing temperatures began several days ago and escalated to power outages across the state early Monday morning. CPS Energy and all other power generators in Texas have worked closely with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Public Utility Commission, and in some cases like ours, the Texas Railroad Commission, to re-stabilize energy demand and supply across the grid via:
- Multiple requests of customers to conserve electricity and natural gas;
- Continual efforts to keep generating plants running and make needed repairs, as applicable;
- Consistently focus on keeping the natural gas system properly pressurized and functioning; and
- Frequently thanking customers for their partnership and patience through this unprecedented time.
While these efforts have been generally helpful, thus far, they have not been enough to re-stabilize the grid. Before more complications arise this evening, ERCOT may call more corrective measures in which operators across the state may have to extend the duration and frequency of outages in their community.
While this means that more customers are going to be impacted, once requested, CPS Energy has an obligation to put these requests into effect for Greater San Antonio. Customers who have experienced some level of rolling outages, about two-thirds (2/3) of its customer base will unfortunately, experience even longer, sustained periods of not having power. Customers who have been on critical circuits with no-to-minor disruption, unfortunately, will now experience outages and are further encouraged to conserve energy and prepare for the possible extended periods of loss of power.
The actions CPS Energy is taking tonight are to avoid a catastrophic event for the ERCOT grid.
” We hope to see improvements overnight, but we are facing unprecedented challenges. Our focus tonight is to restore the consistency of the grid. Conservation is important, and we ask our community to continue to do all they can to limit electric and natural gas energy use,” said Paula Gold-Williams, President & CEO of CPS Energy. “We understand that this is a big ask of our customers and sincerely apologize for the problems that this is causing them. Our customers are our neighbors, families and friends, and we are doing everything we can to make sure we work to make things better for everyone.”
Rotating outages began across the state around 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning. Utility system operators are making real-time decisions with real-time information coming from ERCOT, and these decisions are made in a nondiscriminatory manner. While increasingly difficult to accommodate, utilities work to preserve power for critical functions (i.e., hospitals, governmental entities, etc.) to limit the impact on those facilities. It is through this outage management process, executed over the same timeframe in major cities across the state, that the grid can and must be re-stabilized.
Please know that all participants in the ERCOT grid are taking the same measures.
The extreme weather has driven record-breaking energy use across the state. With energy reductions driven by outage management, CPS Energy used more than 4,954 MW yesterday, which was a winter record. If the outages had not been proactively managed thus far, winter energy demand would have exceeded summer maximums for the first time in CPS Energy’s history.
To assist with keeping residents off the road and safe, CPS Energy’s walk-in centers will be closed on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. Additionally, Braunig and Calaveras parks and lakes are closed until further notice.
Currently, there are 418 active outages impacting 287,258 customers. While most of these customers are being impacted by the thoughtful outage management process, a smaller portion has been caused by normal field equipment failures, fallen tree branches and similar issues. CPS Energy teams are working to restore all power outages and are ready to respond to all reports of natural gas emergencies throughout the service area. Customers can stay up-to-date on the utility’s Facebook and Twitter pages and can also monitor power outages and report them on the Outage Map.
Because of the expectation of extended outages, the following tips are advised to maintain a safe comfort level.
- Stay warm by dressing in layers of loose-fitting clothing instead of a single heavy layer.
- Wear a hat, even indoors. Keeping your head warm helps keep your body warm.
- Wear gloves or mittens to keep hands warm, and wear a scarf to keep your neck warm.
- Use towels to block drafts around doors and windows.
- Use extreme care when using gasoline-powered generators. Do not operate a generator inside your home or other inhabited building. Only operate generators outdoors, and be sure the exhaust is facing away from your home.
- Do not use camping stoves or outdoor grills indoors, not even in your garage. These can cause carbon monoxide to build up in your home and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Conserve power on your mobile phone in case of emergency. Some battery-saving tips include:
- Turn down the screen light
- Turn off Bluetooth
- Close all unused applications
- If possible, use text to communicate instead of making a call
- If you have multiple mobile phones in the household, keep one phone on for emergency updates and turn the others off to preserve battery life.
- Unplug sensitive equipment during a power outage, including televisions, computers, and other electronics which helps protect against any voltage irregularities that may occur as power is restored.
- If you have medication that requires refrigeration, please check with your pharmacist for instructions on storage during an extended power outage.
- If you have a garage door opener, review the instructions for manually opening the garage door.
- Be extra cautious when outdoors in snowy conditions. Downed power lines can be hidden by snow, trees, or other debris. Always assume a downed power line is live. If you see a downed power line, stay away and call us immediately at 210-353-4357 (HELP).
How to track electricity demand
- View daily peak demand forecast, current load, and available generation at http://www.ercot.com.
- Follow ERCOT on Twitter (@ERCOT_ISO) and Facebook (Electric Reliability Council of Texas).
- Sign up for the ERCOT mobile app (available for download at the Apple App Store and Google Play).
- Subscribe to the Emergency Alerts list on http://lists.ercot.com.
- Public Utility Commission of Texas Hotline – 1-888-782-8477
CPS Energy wants to thank all customers again for their patience as we work to keep conditions from worsening and for helping to conserve energy.