Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Rolling, rolling blackouts..

Fresh when it gets here from Julie Barrett
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It was a good thing I didn't have to be anywhere this morning. Woke up at 7:30 to discover the alarm clock was blinking 1:20. I'd gone to bed about that time and shut off the alarm so I figured I'd done something stupid in my sleep-deprived state. I reset the clock and rolled over - to find the clock blinking 12:30. It seems that Oncor (the company that oversees delivery of electric power to Texas) has had to institute rolling blackouts. We've had at least four today. Some people have been without power since 7:30.

The cause? The record low temperatures. There seem to be several contributing factors from a number of power plants "tripping" due to the temps to problems with the "day ahead" markets. This is how a good chunk of the energy is purchased. From my days working at a SCADA company I recall that Federal regulators are kind of strict about how much energy (like natural gas) can be purchased in advance. This is one reason the energy providers asks non-essential businesses to shut down so they can keep providing power and gas to residences and essential places like hospitals, emergency centers, and Jerry World.

You read that right. Cowboys Stadium is exempt from the rolling blackouts.

(Update: Just read there should be no more rolling blackouts today. However, the low tonight is expected to be 9F, and since there's a Level 3 Energy Emergency in force, I don't know if that means we'll see more blackouts tomorrow.)

So, how do we cope with the blackouts?

I jest - partly. I picked this coffee maker up at a thrift store a couple of weeks ago, and this seemed like a good time to try it out.  It makes terrible coffee, but is great for keeping water hot for tea. One of this morning's blackouts hit just after I'd made a pot of coffee. If nothing else, I can keep it warm in an insulated carafe if we go through this again.

The good thing about all this is that I'm taking a slack week I spent January buried in projects, and I decided I needed a little time to step away from the computer and take care of some personal projects. Next week I'll be working on some new photos. However, if we get a blackout at night, then I'll get busy on the new laser shots since they don't require any AC power.

One of the personal projects is a refresh of the journal pages. I think I've broken the Twitter widget in the process. Sigh. I'll keep at it.

Tags: Life Pictures

Filed under: Life   Pictures   Weather      


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