Important Information About Electricity Load Shedding and What It Could Mean to You
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) manage the flow of electric power to almost 40,000 member-consumers of South Plains Electric Cooperative. ERCOT and SPP are responsible for ensuring that the supply of electricity is sufficient to meet consumer demand (load) for electricity in the Cooperative’s service area.
When electric supply provided by all available power generation plants, wind farms and other sources becomes insufficient to meet member-consumer demand, ERCOT and SPP begin emergency operations. During a power emergency when electric supply cannot meet consumer demand for electricity and all other operational tools have been exhausted, the demand for electricity must be reduced to avoid uncontrolled blackouts. As a last resort, ERCOT and SPP will instruct electric utilities to implement controlled consumer outages to reduce the demand for electricity on the ERCOT and SPP grids. This is referred to as load shed and will last until the power emergency is resolved by ERCOT and SPP.
Typically, before calling for controlled consumer outages, ERCOT and SPP take steps to reduce the demand on the electric grids by asking consumers to reduce electric usage. Electric utilities, including South Plains Electric Cooperative, are obligated to immediately implement load shed procedures when ERCOT and SPP instruct.
During member-consumer load shed events:
- All member-consumers should assume their power could go out without advanced warning. Efforts will be made, as much as possible, to provide advanced notification of pending outages, but circumstances do not always allow that to happen.
- Member-consumers designated as Critical Load or Medical Necessity are not guaranteed an uninterrupted supply of electricity. It is the responsibility of the member-consumer to make necessary arrangements for alternative sources of electric power should a localized outage or load shed event occur.
- Residential member-consumers dependent on electric-powered medical equipment are encouraged to have a solid back-up plan in the event they lose electricity. It is important to note that these member-consumers are not excluded from controlled outages and may lose power during a load shed event. Anyone who depends on electricity for life-sustaining equipment should have a back-up plan in place. For more information about our Medical Necessity Program, please contact Dianne Hewett at dhewett@SPEC.coop.
- Electric utilities will attempt to prioritize continuity of service for certain commercial and industrial consumers whose service is critical to the community during an emergency or those whose service provides major support to the integrity of the electric system during an emergency. Examples include hospitals, major airports, water suppliers and 911. For more information about qualifying critical load, please contact Jamey Phillips at jphillips@SPEC.coop.
- Because a load shed event is an emergency order from ERCOT and SPP based on a shortfall of electricity being generated, electric utilities, including South Plains Electric Cooperative, do not have the information to be able to notify individual member-consumers if they may lose power, when they may lose power or how long the load shed event may last.
- In extreme power emergencies, ERCOT and SPP may require electric utilities to shed large amounts of load over long periods of time. In these instances, electric utilities like South Plains Electric Cooperative may not have the ability to rotate outages without risking the stability of the entire electric grid. When this happens, some member-consumers may be without power for an extended time period. These outages are critical for ensuring the integrity of the state’s electric grid and preventing a system-wide blackout, which could be long-lasting and have a significant impact on all aspects of life.
- Electric utilities are required to continue to comply with ERCOT and SPP controlled consumer outage instructions until ERCOT and SPP determine that outages are no longer required.
- The Public Utility Commission of Texas website and our TogetherWeSave information provide examples for member-consumers to reduce electricity use at times when involuntary load shedding events may be implemented.
Regardless of the nature of the load shedding event, South Plains Electric Cooperative is committed to doing everything it can to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of electricity to its member-consumers 24-hours-per-day, 7-days-per-week. While the Cooperative may not control the issues or conditions that have required ERCOT’s and SPP’s orders to shed load, we will do everything in our power to restore electricity when we are able to safely do so. In addition, we will work to keep our member-consumers informed about the situation through local media outlets, social media and direct communications to you.