As San Antonio experiences record-hot temperatures Monday, CPS Energy and city officials urged residents and businesses to conserve power this afternoon to help the state’s power grid prevent rolling blackouts.
As of 2:30 p.m. Monday, ERCOT reported its power reserves in yellow, indicating conservation statewide is necessary.
“CPS [Energy] is encouraging customers to reduce electricity usage between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. to help meet the energy demands throughout the state,” said City Manager Erik Walsh at a noon press conference Monday at City Hall.
Cooling centers will be open across the city until 10 p.m. Monday night, Walsh said.
“Every kilowatt hour counts today,” said Rudy Garza, interim president and chief executive officer for CPS Energy. The city-owned utility said it has enough power for local needs, but is seeking conservation to help the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which runs the state grid and put out a call Sunday asking Texans to conserve power on Monday afternoon.
“We’re hopeful we’ll get through today unscathed,” said Garza.
If ERCOT’s power reserves are not sufficient, rolling blackouts could be ordered, Garza warned. Ideally, that would mean power outages of no more than 15 minutes at a time, he said.
After the days-long power outages during 2021’s Winter Storm Uri, CPS Energy responded to criticism that certain parts of the city never suffered outages by identifying more circuits that could be powered down in the event of rolling blackouts.
No specific part of the city would be targeted if ERCOT calls for rolling blackouts, Garza said Monday.
San Antonio Water System President and CEO Robert Puente said at the news conference that the water utility is setting its recycling plants to a lower flow and will be turning off its H2Oaks recycling center to conserve energy. It will also turn off power at its headquarters and all five service centers across the city and will switch to generator power to help conserve.
Puente said these efforts would not affect customers’ water service.
The city will be reaching out to persons experiencing homelessness to ensure they have water and know of the free transportation on VIA buses to the city’s cooling centers. The city is also setting all facilities to 78 degrees or higher and is shutting down or reducing activity in non essential areas, turning off lights and minimizing electrical use.
CPS Energy is also relying on its Demand Resource program, which allows customers to opt-in to voluntarily reduce their electricity use in return for rebates.
“This time of year highlights why energy efficiency and conservation programs like [these] are so important,” said Garza. “They play a critical role when things get tight, like today to help us manage that peak so that hopefully we don’t find ourselves in a controlled situation.”
San Antonio is expected to see triple-digit highs through Friday. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning that will remain in effect until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Until then, conditions will be dangerously hot with highs ranging from 105 to 110, and an afternoon heat index up to 112 expected.
The press conference represents the city and CPS Energy’s efforts to communicate more often and more completely after Winter Storm Uri, which caused hundreds of deaths across the state, including more than a dozen in the San Antonio region.