Texas breaks winter record for energy use Wednesday

65,731 megawatts of power consumed between 7-8 a.m.

By Josh Skurnik - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A new record was set Wednesday in Texas for winter electricity use.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the flow of electricity in the state, said 65,731 megawatts of power was consumed between 7 and 8 a.m. amid frigid temperatures. The record before Wednesday's consumption was 62,855 megawatts, which was set two weeks ago.

While CPS Energy also set an energy-use record two weeks ago during the last cold snap, not as much power was consumed Tuesday and Wednesday, thanks in part to the utility getting the word out early to its customers to conserve energy, and businesses staggering start times for employees, CPS Energy CEO and President Paula Gold-Williams said.

"We've asked people to really try to still control -- not turning on all their lights, Gold-Williams said. "The staggered start times across the business community have been extremely helpful. We even asked our employees not to start until 11:30. We wanted to make sure that we were not creating extra drag on the systems."

Earlier, there was talk of statewide blackouts, but Gold-Williams said clearing skies Wednesday led to warmer temperatures.

Although the state escaped the threat of rolling blackouts this time around, Gold-Williams said winter isn't over.

"This can happen at any point in time," she said. "Because we are connected to a massive grid, the grid itself -- we look at every major operator and provider of power and everyone puts in as much power from their generation as they can. But of course, when the weather is extreme, that means there is more demand for power. And there is a possibility when you look at the entire state that there could be more demand than there is power available."

CPS Energy said customers can conserve energy throughout the winter by observing the following tips:

  • Set your thermostat between 68 to 70 degrees when home. Set it lower when away at work or school. 
  • Use ceiling fans at lowest setting in reverse mode to circulate warm air in rooms in use.
  • Limit use of washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and water heaters during peak times.
  • Turn off electrical appliances and unplug chargers not in use.
  • Turn electrical heaters and lights off when not needed or the room or area is empty.
  • Avoid using too many electric items at the same time.
  • Layer clothing to keep warm at home.
  • Close exterior doors and windows to keep the cold out and reduce the running time of the heating system. 
  • Seal any holes or gaps with towels or other material to keep cold air from coming in and heat from escaping. 
  • During the day, open window blinds and curtains if the sun is shining to let in the sun's warmth. 
  • Purchase surge protectors with the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency like Underwriter Laboratories to protect your equipment and appliances. Be sure to note wattage capacity, and do not overload the surge protectors.

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