As this near-record heat wave continues with no end in sight, the demand for electricity throughout North Texas is soaring to incredibly high levels. So high, in fact, that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued a Level 2 Emergency Alert just before 3 p.m. CDT on Thursday August 4th. This alert means that local businesses and residents are at risk of experiencing rolling brownouts—and possibly blackouts—if the energy reserves continue to be depleted.
Earlier this year ERCOT had predicted a 17 percent surplus of energy during the summer months. Now, less than three months later, we are in an emergency situation because ERCOT’s estimations did not anticipate the prolonged heat that has sent the mercury soaring to triple digits for 35 consecutive days—with no relief in sight. In fact, ERCOT could call for a Level 3 Alert, a condition under which rolling blackouts would be scheduled.
We, here at ElectricMan, have experienced a spike in calls from homeowners and businesses that are experiencing outages that supposedly are not yet happening. Some callers report entire areas are without power; other outages appear to be isolated to individual locations. These outages are the result of the high demand for electricity, which is causing spikes and surges in the overtaxed electrical supply lines and equipment. These outages, of course, are only adding to an already stressful situation.
Thursday afternoon we received calls from residents in north Frisco, The Colony and Aubrey, where neighborhoods were experiencing rolling blackouts for the second consecutive day. Needless to say, they were scrambling for any solution that could help them immediately.
We also received a call from Sprinkles Cupcakes Dallas, a bakery located in the Plaza at Preston Center, at Northwest Highway and Preston Road. Come to find out, the whole shopping center of this upscale location was without power—for the second time in the past 30 days. This time, the outage lasted only two hours, much shorter than the previous outage, which lasted from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Outages such as these lead to lost revenue from potential sales and the double whammy of having to pay idle staff members who wait for the power to return.
As bad as that is, the outages can have devastating effects in the residential sector, particularly for those homeowners who are elderly or those who have small children. Not everyone is going to have the means to leave their home and head to the nearest mall, restaurant or movie theater for relief. The situation is exacerbated for individuals who rely on electricity to power medical equipment needed in everyday life; for them, the lack of power can have dire, if not fatal, consequences.
This is Texas, folks. It goes without saying that we know it’s going to be hot during the summer months. With what we have learned over the past few months, it’s obvious that the level of planning for power shortages is woefully inadequate and under-evaluated. We need to ensure that ERCOT and other state agencies are proactive in preparing for worst-case scenarios rather than reactive when we are already in the midst of a dire situation.
Maybe it’s time to put the heat on ERCOT. Had this organization planned better and allowed for an energy surplus of more than 17 percent, we would not be in this current situation.
About ElectricMan Inc.
ElectricMan Inc. is a licensed Dallas and Plano electrician serving the DFW area with 27 years of experience in electrical repair and installation, offering fast 24-hour service for residential and commercial needs. ElectricMan Inc. is now offering state-of-the-art backup power systems that exceed current emergency power standards while also providing a homeowner or business owner with the ability to have multiple options for emergency power, as well as the option to switch to the most efficient power supply available during normal usage to reduce energy costs in the long run.