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How to know the difference between a local power outage and rolling blackouts

(Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune)

Last week, Texans were asked twice to voluntarily conserve energy at home as record demand put stress on the power grid.

These conservation requests don’t mean that power outages are imminent — instead, it’s one of the many tools that Texas’ Electricity Reliability Council uses to prevent mass power outages. At the same time, some residents across the state lost power in outages that ERCOT says weren’t related to the power grid. It’s easy for Texans, still wary after February’s 2021 winter outage that caused many Texans to lose power for days, to confuse local outages with statewide issues with the grid.

So how do you know the difference?

How can I tell the difference between a local outage and a grid outage?

When ERCOT calls for a rotating outage, the information will be available through several sources, a spokesperson said. This can include reports in local media, on ERCOT’s Facebook and Twitter, through the ERCOTapp and through emergency email alerts that residents can sign up for here.

Rotating outages also affect the entire ERCOT region, which covers most of Texas. When individual towns are experiencing an outage, the problem is much more likely to be local, according to an ERCOT spokesperson.

The Texas Department of Public Safety also works with ERCOT and other grid operators in Texas to put out power outage alerts when one of the grid operators believes it doesn’t have enough power supply to meet demand for the state or a particular region. The power outage alert program supplies Texas broadcasters with information and updates about outages to distribute to the public.

Texans who are experiencing an outage but don’t see any announcements from ERCOT should check with their local utility company instead. Austin Energy provides updates here.

For more answers to your energy outage questions, click here.


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