ERCOT CONDITIONS UPDATE (2/19/2021 @ 11:00 A.M.):
ERCOT is now reporting normal conditions across the grid!
Once again, if you are a WCEC member, please report any power outages to our office at 979-543-6271.
To continue monitoring ERCOT's status, visit www.ercot.com.
What does ERCOT's latest press release mean for our members?
The possibility of resuming rotating outages has decreased tremendously. ERCOT is now at EEA Level 2 meaning conservation is still critical.
With the exception of a small outage on FM 1300, all WCEC members should have power. Please call our office at 979-543-6271 if you are without power.
Continue to follow us here on Facebook for updates as well as your local emergency management and city/county officials. ERCOT conditions are available at www.ercot.com.
ERCOT PRESS RELEASE (2/19/2021 @ 8:30 A.M.):
AUSTIN, TX, Feb. 19, 2021 – The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) expects to come out of emergency conditions later this morning.
"There is enough generation on the electric system to allow us to begin to return to more normal operating conditions," said Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin.
No additional outages were needed overnight to keep power supply and electric demand in balance, and only a few generating units tripped.
Electric utilities continue to address remaining customer outages. Customers should contact their electric provider if they are without power.
Customers that are without power likely fall into one of these three categories:
• Areas out due to ice storm damage on the distribution system
• Areas that were taken out of service due to the energy emergency load shed that need to be restored manually (i.e., sending a crew to the location to reenergize the line)
• Large industrial facilities that voluntarily went offline to help during this energy emergency
As of 7:30 this morning, approximately 34,000 MW of generation remains on forced outage due to this winter weather event. Of that, nearly 20,000 MW is thermal generation and the rest is wind and solar.
IMPORTANT POWER CONSERVATION UPDATE (2/19/2021 @ 8:10 A.M.):
ERCOT mandated rotating outages continue to be paused. ERCOT's EEA Level 3 is still in effect. We are still experiencing high energy use across the state.
It’s therefore critical for anyone with power to continue conservation efforts. Doing so will help avoid taxing the statewide grid and triggering the need to resume mandate outages for WCEC members and Texans everywhere.
How can you help? Refrain from:
-From using other electricity-intensive appliances and devices
-Keep your thermostat set to 68 degrees or as low as you can tolerate
-Keep all other electricity usage to the barest minimum possible
Observing these steps can help keep electricity reserves across WCEC’s and the statewide grid as stable as possible.
We want to thank all of our members for working with us through this unprecedented situation. Everyone at WCEC is here, working for you. We are grateful to be able to serve you. Thank you for your patience, support and understanding.
IMPORTANT POWER CONSERVATION UPDATE (2/18/2021 @ 11:14 A.M.)
ERCOT mandated rotating outages are still PAUSED for WCEC's territory.
However, the state's power grid is in a very critical state. Mandated outages can be called for at any time while they are in EEA 3 alert status. A deficit in capacity is predicted for this evening and into early tomorrow. It is likely rotating outages may be needed once again.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO CONSERVE POWER!
We can all work together to keep the power on. Any reduction in power at this point will help! Keep your heater set to the lowest possible setting. If you have a SAFE alternative way to heat your home, continue to use this method if possible. Use larger appliances such as your water heater, oven, or washer/dryer as little as possible. Turn off any appliances, lights, or electronics that are not being used.
We thank you all for doing what you can to conserve energy and help the overall grid. Your help is very much appreciated!
WINTER STORM OUTAGE UPDATE (2/18/2021 @ 9:33 A.M.):
At this time all WCEC members have power as the ERCOT mandated rotating outages have been paused (see earlier post).
If you do not have power at this time, please check your meter to see if the display has a reading. If it does, your breakers may have tripped and need to be reset. Please try to reset your breakers before calling in your outage.
If your meter does not show a reading, please call our office at 979-543-6271 to report it.
If we receive advanced notice from either ERCOT or our power supplier that rotating outages are to resume, we will let our membership know.
IMPORTANT POWER CONSERVATION UPDATE (2/18/2021 @ 6:16 A.M.)
EROCOT has reduced the load shed requirements to 0. Rotating Outages on our system are PAUSED.
WE REMAIN UNDER A EEA3 LEVEL ALERT AND CONTINUED ENERGY CONSERVATION IS IMPERATIVE!
It is expected that the rotating outages will resume with the morning peak.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Please continue conserving energy where and when possible as noted on this link: http://www.ercot.com/about/conservation . Do not assume that the rotating outages are completely over. As the morning progresses and the day's typical demand for electricity rises, there is still not enough generation resources online to sustain the load/demand. Enjoy the pause in rotating outages BUT BE ADVISED THAT THEY WILL RESUME AT SOME POINT LATER TODAY.
ROTATING OUTAGES UPDATE (2/17/2021 @ 8:22 A.M.)
Our update today is much the same. ERCOT mandated rotating outages are still ongoing. All outages are considered mandated at this time.
We’ve been hearing a lot of questions and confusion about what’s happening to the grid in Texas, and why it affects our local co-op. We’re going to try to better explain the electricity market in Texas, and why these outages are now happening across the state. This post is long, but if you read through it, we think it will answer a lot of your questions.
WCEC is a distribution cooperative. We’re a local company that delivers power to 4,199 members and maintains the distribution lines that serve the homes and businesses within our service area. We are governed by members just like you – our board of directors. Our employees also live in the local area, and many are members of our co-op. Just like you, our board members and employees are experiencing these mandated outages.
WCEC purchases electricity from South Texas Electric Cooperative. STEC is a generation and transmission cooperative. That means they make electricity and deliver it to their substations within our local distribution network through transmission lines. They also maintain those facilities. Although we purchase enough electricity to provide adequate power supply for our members, it does not matter to ERCOT when the Texas grid is in a state of emergency.
The power lines from local distribution companies like ours and transmission lines around the state make up what is commonly called “the grid”. There are three grids in the United States, one of which is entirely in Texas, with limited connections to the rest of the United States. Our grid has been significantly impacted because of the extreme weather that has hit the entire state—something that’s pretty unprecedented.
The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the grid within the state. It is overseen by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas and the state legislature. They control the flow of power by operating a market where all electricity is bought and sold within the state. All power, regardless of who is generating it, flows through this market. More importantly, ERCOT is tasked with making sure the electric grid is reliable.
Unfortunately, legislation has heavily subsidized renewable energy resources. While these generation sources are certainly valuable, they also aren’t necessarily reliable. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. We have seen tons of renewable generation come online in Texas. But because it’s not profitable to build baseload power – like a natural gas power plan—there isn’t really any other new reliable generation being build. In fact, STEC is one of the only generation providers who has added new baseload generation in the last few years. They built their Red Gate natural gas facility in 2016. In that time span, many other power plants in Texas have closed.
We’ve been voicing our concerns about these issues to Texas legislators for years. And we’ve routinely shared our concerns about the reliability of the grid with our members in Texas Co-op Power. We typically worry about the risk of mandated outages in peak summer months. In fact, ERCOT got pretty close to issuing rotating outages in August of 2019. At that time, it wasn’t windy and wind turbines largely stopped producing electricity on an extremely hot day when demand was high.
So what has happened to cause these outages to happen in the winter? The simple answer is that there isn’t enough electricity being made. More than 70 generating units across the state have tripped offline due to unprecedented sub-freezing conditions across the entire state. These generation issues span across all types of electricity generation. Until these facilities thaw and can begin making power again, we will experience mandated outages. Right now, the state is short electricity for millions of people.
The lack of electricity is also coupled with record-breaking electricity demand in the state. With the entire state falling below freezing, the load from heating and everything else is much higher than Texas typically experiences this time of year. This is not something ERCOT anticipated when modeling how much electricity they would need through the winter months. ERCOT, in their role to keep the grid reliable, cannot let the demand for electricity be greater than the supply of power available. If that was to happen, the state would experience a statewide blackout. It could damage the grid to the point of a rebuild. Instead of an uncomfortable few days without power, we could experience an uncomfortable few weeks. To prevent that from happening, ERCOT has issued these mandated outages. All utilities in the state have to comply.
Why is WCEC not in control of these mandated outages?
ERCOT has directed STEC (and all utilities across the state) to reduce a certain amount of load from its system to keep the entire state grid operational. STEC controls these outages directly by turning power on and off at their substations. These outages were supposed to rotate, but that effort has been hindered by ERCOT’s increasing load shed requirements. Instead of rotating loads, STEC is often required to drop even more load, which is why these outages have been lasting so long. They also can’t rotate load back on without having another circuit equal in load size to remove from the system. Some of our larger circuits have dealt with unfairly long outages because of this. We have had regular contact and are actively working with STEC to improve this process as much as possible for our members.
Lastly, we just want to say that we care about our members. We are deeply sorry that you are experiencing hardship. We know you’re cold. We know there are elderly, children, people with medical needs, pets, livestock and more that live on our lines. If we could just give you power, we would! Unfortunately, there just isn’t electricity available. We can only ask that you please continue to bear with us through this difficult time. We are all in this together.
ROTATING OUTAGE UPDATE (2/16/2021 @ 7:39 A.M.):
ERCOT mandated rotating outages will continue throughout the day today. For our members, the outages are controlled by our power supplier as they are required to do so by ERCOT.
There is no easy answer to when or how long our members may or may not have power. On average, the outages are lasting longer than four hours without power with a brief period of power in between each outage. This is not the case for everyone. Some have lasted longer and others shorter. At this time, we are asking members to ONLY report outages that have lasted longer than five hours UNLESS you are aware of damage to our lines or equipment in your area.
There are very few outages being reported that are because of damage to our system.
WINTER STORM OUTAGE UPDATE @ 7:55 A.M.
Currently, approximately 2,750 members are without power throughout our service territory. Here is what we know so far:
Most of these outages including those south of El Campo are due to galloping transmission lines. These are the larger power lines that bring power to our area from our generation cooperative. Because of the galloping lines, we have not been able to bring several substations back online.
WCEC Line Crews will be assessing any possible damage to our system this morning and restoring power to those areas that may not be affected by galloping power lines.
At the same time, rotating outages mandated by ERCOT are taking place. Rotating outages may continue throughout today and possibly tomorrow. To keep phone lines clear for emergencies such as downed power lines, please wait at least 45 minutes to report NEW outages.
If you have already reported an outage, please remain patient and take necessary precautions to protect family members from the cold. WCEC Crews will be working throughout the day to restore power as soon as it is possible to do so.
Please visit MyWCEC.coop/OutageCentral for safety tips and a look at our live outage map. We thank you all for your patience as we work to restore power.