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2021 winter storm updates and resources

0215
 2021


UPDATE: ERCOT announced the state's electric grid has stabilized and continues to improve. There is enough electric generation to supply Texas homes and businesses with power. Thanks for your support, patience and understanding during this week's energy emergency.

UPDATE: Please conserve today to ensure reliability of the state’s electric grid. We are closely watching weather and electric grid conditions. You can monitor conditions on Bluebonnet’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and via ERCOT’s mobile app, Twitter page or ercot.com

Tips for conserving energy

The demand for electricity remains very high. To conserve energy, please take these steps, particularly during the early morning and evening:
  • Set your thermostat at 65 degrees or lower
  • Avoid using large electric appliances like ovens, washing machines, dryers, etc.
  • Keep doors and windows closed
  • Turn electric water heater temperature to 120 degrees
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances
  • Open blinds during the day if the sun is shining 

Rotating Outages FAQs

Q: Where are the rotating outages located?
During a rotating outages alert, Bluebonnet cuts power to “feeder” lines to reduce the demand for power. A feeder line is a section of power line that starts in a substation and can run for miles. The number of members who would experience that outage varies, depending on how many are on a given feeder line. After a length of time, they move to another feeder line and restore power.

Q: How long would it be necessary to have rotating outages? 
That depends on how long it takes to stabilize the state’s electric grid, ensuring there is enough power generation to meet the consumers’ demand. 
 
Q: How will I know what is going on?
You can look at our Facebook page or Twitter feed or our website, Bluebonnet.coop, for details. You can also follow ERCOT’s Facebook and Twitter pages, download ERCOT’s mobile app to your mobile device, or go to ercot.com for current statewide electric grid conditions. In the event of rotating outages, members with a cell phone on file enrolled in our Outage Alerts, will receive a series of text messages:
•    Alerting member that we are beginning rotating outages
•    Alerting member that we are aware of their outage
•    Alerting member that their power has been restored
•    Alerting member that rotating outages have ended
If your power is still out, please report the outage as usual: Call 800-949-4414, text OUT to 85700 (to register, text BBOUTAGE to that number), go to bluebonnet.coop or use our mobile app.

Q: Are rotating outages on a schedule? 
During rotating outages, we temporarily cut power to segments of power line, depending on ERCOT requirements that are constantly changing. ERCOT determines the amount of demand needed to meet supply levels. We can't predict when a member will be out, or how many outages you will experience through the Energy Emergency Alert. 

Steps to take if you lose power

  • Turn thermostat off or down at least four degrees
  • Turn off nonessential electric appliances and lights 
  • Turn electric water heaters off or set to 120 degrees 
  • Wait a few minutes after power is restored before resuming use of electric appliances and returning thermostat and water heaters to previous settings 

4 ways to report an outage

  • Text OUT to 85700 if you’re enrolled in Outage Alerts. To register, text BBOUTAGE to 85700,
  • Call 800-949-4414,
  • Go to bluebonnet.coop or 
  • Use our MyBluebonnet mobile app.

Power restoration 

Freezing rain and ice can affect power lines. Ice buildup of half an inch can add up to 500 pounds of to a power line, leading the line to break, causing a power outage. Additional weight on equipment and tree limbs make them more reactive to wind gusts, which could snap lines and branches. Learn more about the risks of ice storms here

With frigid temperatures, demand is high. Power must be restored incrementally and cautiously. 

Tips for prolonged outage

  • Use towels or blankets to block cold air entry points, particularly around doors and windows
  • Close curtains and blinds; insulate with plastic sheeting, cardboard or a blanket
  • Bundle up in the warmest room of the home with layers of clothing and blankets
  • Get up and move around to warm your body, but don't overdo it
  • Stay hydrated; avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks, which cause you to lose body heat faster

Resources


Winter storms are an inevitable part of the season. However, severe storms and extremely low temperatures can lead to an increased number of downed power lines, damaged equipment and prolonged outages. Remember the following tips to prepare for winter freezes and stay safe and warm should you find yourself in the dark after a severe winter event:
  • Damaged equipment and downed power lines: Stay away from electric equipment that could be damaged. Never touch a fallen power line. Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged, and stay away. If the situation is an emergency, call 911. Then report the downed line to our automated outage line, 800-949-4414, and select option 2.

  • Use an alternate heat source: In the event of an outage, an alternate heating source — such as a fireplace, propane space heater or wood stove — may be used with caution. Avoid using a gas-powered oven or stove for heating. Ensure proper ventilation, and replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors if it’s been more than six months. Plan to stay in an area of the home where the alternate heat source is located, and wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.  If your outage is prolonged, move your family to one room and keep interior doors shut and seal exterior doors using towel or blanket.

  • Portable Generators: If you use a portable generator to power a heating source, be sure the generator is located outside your house for proper ventilation. Do not use a generator in an attached garage, and keep at least 20 feet away from your home. Follow manufacturer’s directions for operating the generator.

    Generators should be used to power only a few small appliances or lights. Do not connect it to your home’s electrical system. Take special care not to overload a generator. Use an extension cord with a surge protector to carry the electric load if your generator is not equipped with one. Make sure the cords have a grounded, three-pronged plug and are in good condition.

    Make sure all electrical devices are off before you connect them to a generator, and once the generator is running, switch devices on one at a time. Shut them down again when power is restored.

    Portable generators can be dangerous and require care when in use. They should be installed by a licensed electrician. Be sure you are comfortable operating one before you use it. If you are unsure, try to avoid using it until you can get enough information to knowledgeably power one. More information on backup generators can be found at Energy.gov

  • Protect your home and food: Consider installing insulation to exposed pipes, such as foam, newspaper or heat tape. Drip outside faucets 24 hours a day at a rate of 5 drops per minute to avoid pipe freezes. This is not necessary unless temperatures are expected to be 28 degrees or below for at least 4 hours. If your pipes freeze, use caution not to cause damage in thawing them.

    Keep your freezer and refrigerator doors shut. Each time you open the door, cold air escapes. Food will stay frozen between 36 and 48 hours in a full refrigerator freezer and up to 24 hours if the freezer is half-full. To keep food safe for a prolonged period of time, store in a cooler with ice at a temperature of 40 degrees or lower. Different foods thaw at different rates: When in doubt, throw it out. Unopened food will stay cold for only about four hours in the refrigerated portion of your appliance. If you are cooking food, do not use the outdoor grill or a charcoal fueled barbecue inside your house, as they can feed carbon monoxide into the house. For more recommendations, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ideally, your family will stay bundled up, dressed in lots of layers and warm until the power comes back on. But if exposure to cold is prolonged, keep an eye on family members for signs of hypothermia, which include shivering, drowsiness, and mental and physical slowness; call 911 immediately if you notice these symptoms. When outdoors, exposed skin in very low temperatures can lead to frostbite – even in as little as 10 minutes, based on wind chill and temperature. If you must go outside, limit as much as possible and follow recommendations from the National Weather Service

 

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