Record-breaking temperatures forced rolling blackouts across the state of Texas yesterday...and it's not even summer yet.
Faced with the prospect of another day of record heat, the state's power suppliers urged Texans to cut down on their electricity use in the hopes of avoiding more rolling blackouts.
Power companies throughout the state imposed the blackouts Monday because of an electricity shortage during unseasonably hot weather. Thousands of people were caught without electricity for short periods of time as highs reached into the low 100s, and police rushed to direct traffic during the afternoon rush hour.
"We are asking everybody to pitch in and do the best they can by minimizing electric consumption between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., the peak hours," said Paul Wattles, spokesman for Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the state's electricity grid.
As much as 15 percent of the state's power supply was already off line for seasonal maintenance to brace for the summer's energy usage peaks.
"Generally, in April is when we like our generators to schedule their planned outages," said Dottie Roark, another ERCOT spokesperson. "At 3 o'clock we didn't realize it was going to be that much of a problem. These things are kind of hard to forget."
The typical usage for Texas in April is about 40,000 megawatts a day, but the state pushed 52,000 megawatts on Monday, Wattles said. The rollouts were limited to the ERCOT grid, which provides electricity to about 80 percent of the state.
The rolling blackouts, which lasted for a little more than two hours, were the first in the ERCOT region since Dec. 22, 1989, during a winter ice storm.
In local news, an article in the Victoria Advocate had information on local outages:
Victoria Electric Cooperative shut down about 282 electric meters near the intersection of U.S. Highway 77 and San Antonio River Road for about 20 minutes starting at 4:30 p.m., said Rick Norton, general manager.
Between 400 and 500 customers on the east side of U.S. Highway 87 in Nursery were shut down for around 10 minutes shortly after 6 p.m. Customers affected were in between Oliver Road and Kohutek Road.
American Electric Power shut down around 150 customers in an area from Bottom Road east to Ben Jordan Street for about 40 minutes starting at about 4:45 p.m., said Elgin Janssen, community affairs manager in Victoria.
Customers in Port Lavaca, El Campo, Bay City, Matagorda and Karnes County were also affected, but Janssen said he didn't have further details about those blackouts.
The word from officials is that no blackouts are planned for today.
Ah, can't wait for summer.
Ed. note: Rusty - thanks for the tip about the chai at the Hardback Cafe. I tried it (got a chai latte) yesterday and it was delicious!
FYI - the Hardback Cafe now has wireless Internet.
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