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What If Texas Power Grid Outages Happen During Heat Wave?

Grid conditions are better than they were this weekend, experts say. That’s because five of the six power plants that went offline Friday are back online. Those five make up about 2,500 megawatts of the almost 3,000 that were lost.

It got so hot in Phoenix this summer that the Salvation Army set up hydration stations to help people stay cool as temperatures hit record highs.
(AP/Ross D. Franklin)
(TNS) - The Electric Reliability Council of Texas warns of high energy demand due to extreme heat through Friday, after asking Texans to conserve this weekend when several power plants went offline.

Texas temperatures are expected to be in the high 90s to lower triple digits.

Grid conditions are better than they were this weekend, experts say. That’s because five of the six power plants that went offline Friday are back online. Those five make up about 2,500 megawatts of the almost 3,000 that were lost. And demand Monday has been lower than expected; ERCOT projected it to be at 73 gigawatts, but the peak demand is now forecast to be about 70 gigawatts. Wind and solar power production is expected to be around 20 gigawatts combined.

Still, power demand on Tuesday is projected to peak at 71.6 gigawatts, which Doug Lewin , president of Stoic Energy, says is “outrageously high.” The previous record demand for May was about 67 gigawatts, and the record for June was 70. Demand could reach even higher levels if we get hotter weather this week.

If you lose power, here’s what you should do to report the outage, how you can monitor outages across the state, and how you should be prepared.

How to report, monitor outages

Safely check your breakers to see whether any have tripped. This may help you avoid a fee if you report an outage.

Check to see if your neighbors’ electricity is out, if it’s safe to do so.

If the problem isn’t in your home, you’ll want to contact your local transmission and distribution utility. Oncor Electric Delivery manages most North Texas power outages, with Texas-New Mexico Power Co. serving including Lewisville .


Oncor Electric Delivery Company is the largest transmission and distribution electric utility in Texas . To report an outage to ONCOR, call 888-313-4747, text OUT to 66267, use the MyOncor app or select “Report an Outage” on the Oncor website.

On Oncor’s website, you’ll find a map of area outages. You can read how many people are affected and when power will be restored. You’ll also be able to see how many outages there are.

To get outage alerts via email, text and/or voice messages, create an account.

Texas-New Mexico Power Co.

To report an outage to Texas - New Mexico , call 888-866-7456 and select option 1.

Report your outage in the automated system (which is quicker) or wait for an agent. The automated system will provide updates on outages while you’re waiting for an agent.

If you reported a new outage on the phone, wait at least 30 minutes before calling back for updates. They’ll provide an estimate for when power will be restored. Most outages are restored within two hours, TNMP says.

You can check the status of power outages in your area by visiting TNMP’s power outage map.

How to handle a heat-related outage

Here’s how to handle a heat-related outage, according to the  Red Cross , Safe Electricity, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes and

What to have on hand

  • A flashlight. If it’s battery-operated, make sure you have extra batteries or a wind-up flashlight.

  • A battery-powered or wind-up radio.
  • Consider purchasing battery-powered fans.
  • A portable charger or power bank.
  • Bottled water, non-perishable foods, medicine, baby supplies and pet food.
  • A first-aid kit in your home and in your car. Make sure that it includes scissors, tweezers, safety pins, aspirin, eyewash and rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Protect all your sensitive electrical appliances with a surge-protecting power bar.
  • Have a backup power source if anyone in your home depends on powered medical equipment.
  • Keep extra cash on hand, since an extended outage may prevent you from withdrawing money.
  • Have one or more coolers for food storage in case power outage is prolonged.

How to prepare for an outage

  • Sign up for a power outage alert system.
  • Charge phones, tablets, rechargeable lanterns, hand-held video games, etc.

  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full, because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.

  • Print out the phone number to call in case of outages and keep it in a readily available location, and save it in your phone.
  • Sign up for alerts from your city and county’s office of emergency management.
  • Find out how long any medication that you take can be stored at higher temperatures.

What to do during an outage

  • Check whether the outage is only in your home. If it is, check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If that’s not the problem, check the service wires leading to the house. If they look damaged or are on the ground, stay at least 10 meters back.
  • Call your electric utility immediately to report the outage.

  • Close all drapes and blinds and use cross-ventilation and fans to cool your home.
  • Dress in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Move to the lowest level of your home. Take your family and pets to a basement or other cool location if you have one.
  • Try going to an air-conditioned public place like a movie theater or mall during the daytime. Check with your local emergency management office or to see if there’s a cooling shelter available in your area.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid heavy meals, caffeinated drinks and alcohol. Remember to provide plenty of cool water for your pets.
  • Use alternative ways to prepare food, like a barbecue grill. Always grill outside.
  • Check on children, seniors and those with medical conditions or disabilities.
  • Turn off appliances to prevent damage from a power surge. Unplug major equipment, including air conditioning units, computers and televisions. Turn off all your lights except one so that you know when power has been restored.

  • Keep refrigerator or freezer doors closed; don’t open unless necessary. A freezer will keep food frozen for up to 36 hours if the door remains closed, and an unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for up to four hours. If an outage lasts longer, remove and pack meat, milk and other dairy products in a cooler with ice.
  • Never use barbecues, camping heating equipment or home generators indoors, because they give off carbon monoxide. Never leave lit candles unattended.

What to do after an outage ends

  • Wait a few minutes before reconnecting tools and appliances, and do so one at a time.
  • Check food supplies in refrigerators, freezers and cupboards for signs of spoilage. Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. If the power is out for more than a day, throw out any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the label says otherwise.

  • If you see a downed power line, stay away and call 911 immediately.

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