ERCOT and Brownouts

Living in South Central Texas during summer, you’ve undoubtedly endured threats of brownouts, also known as rotating outages. When the Texas heat throws our AC units into working overtime during the hottest parts of the day, energy usage soars! During these peak time demand periods, between 3 p.m. and 7p.m., ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) may issue an EEA (Energy Emergency Alert), warning of potential drops in voltage to reduce load and avoid a complete blackout. EEAs encourage consumers, including GVEC membership, to reduce electricity consumption during times when load demand is heaviest, helping prevent these rolling brownouts.

How Do Rolling Brownouts Work?

To be clear, rolling brownouts are not a GVEC service issue. They are mandated by ERCOT when statewide electricity demand exceeds the generation supply. GVEC is required by law to comply. Controlled rotating outages reduce system load to help stabilize the state grid and help to prevent uncontrolled statewide blackouts.

During a controlled rotating outage, GVEC must shed a specified amount of load, as defined by ERCOT. We receive no prior warning before ERCOT issues an official alert and must deploy outages within minutes after a mandate is issued, which does not allow time to pre-notify members.

These controlled rotating outages should last no more than 45 minutes in any single instance. If members experience a longer interval, they’re encouraged to call us to report the outage.

How Members Can Help?

Practicing energy efficiency, especially once an alert has been issued by ERCOT, is the best way members can help. Although efficiency is important every day, when an EEA is issued, it’s critical to reduce demand. We recommend the following steps for the highest impact:

  • Avoid using large appliances such as dishwashers, laundry equipment and ovens from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • While you’re home, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or to as high a temperature as you can tolerate, and use fans to circulate the air. Even raising your thermostat 2-3 degrees can help make a difference.  Close blinds and drapes on windows that get direct sun.
  • When away from home, raise your thermostat by several degrees, and turn off all fans. Close blinds and drapes on windows that get direct sun. When you return home, gradually lower your thermostat by only 1-2 degrees at a time.
  • Limit electricity usage to only what’s absolutely necessary.


Follow GVEC on Social Media

Following GVEC on social media can help cure the summer-time blues brownouts can cause by keeping you informed of any EEA issued by ERCOT. EEA levels and tips on when and how to conserve energy will be posted on all our social media outlets. Don’t be left in the dark! Stay in-the-know by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram today!


Pro Tip: Join Rush Hour Rewards for Peak Time Payback

In addition to staying informed, you can also stay efficient! Contact us to find out how joining Rush Hour Rewards can help you save money while helping us keep peak time demand low!

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