Winter Power Emergency

Information for members.

Winter Weather Emergency Information

UPDATES

February 23, 2021 | 7:00 pm
Members have been asking how the record-breaking cold weather event that took place Feb. 14-19 may impact upcoming bills. We know usage increases as the temperatures drop, which results in above normal energy bills for this time of the year. The cooperative does not expect, however, members to see an increase above current electric rates due to this winter event.

The rate for Farmers Electric Cooperative members for March 2021 is .10759 cents per kWh. This is the same as the rate for February 2021. Farmers EC has been around for more than 80 years and has seen how natural disasters impact energy prices. We still remember the impact of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina on the price of electricity. That’s why we embrace long-term rate stability and strive to be consistent.

We know usage increases in winter, then starts to decrease with the mild spring weather. We have tools to help members recover from the extreme weather event. Budget Billing helps to even out monthly bills, so your payments stay more consistent by avoiding seasonal peaks. We also encourage members to use our HVAC tune-up rebate to have their heat and air systems inspected after being used to overcome at least a 50-degree temperature gap at times. We understand if members need additional time to pay their bill. Our Member Care team can help find a solution that fits any budget. The Farmers EC Member Care team is available by calling 903.455.1715 during business hours.

Farmers Electric Cooperative only charges you for the energy you use. We believe in member service innovation and putting members first. At Farmers EC, you’re a member, not a meter. That’s why, as we recover from the rotating outages and the historic cold weather, we will continue to work with our state legislators, power supplier, and our fellow Texas electric cooperatives to protect the rights of electric consumers. Working together, we will advocate for meaningful reforms to ensure that future extreme weather events do not put members at risk.

 

February 23, 2021 | 3:00 pm
Farmers Electric does not yet know all the costs associated with the record-breaking cold weather from last week. We are still recovering from the ERCOT mandated rotating outages, while also working to recognize the concerns we all share about the historically cold weather.

During winter months, members are concerned about high usage due to cold temperatures, and this year is no exception. Specifically, members are asking about their usage over the past 7 to 10 days, during the winter storm. Temperature, whether extremely hot or cold, impacts electricity usage, and we saw some historically low temperatures earlier this month. The winter storm delivered snow to our area for the first time since March 4, 2015.

The Weather Underground website for Greenville shows the high temperature on Feb. 15 as 14 degrees and the low as 7 degrees. The next day was not much better as the high temperature was 21 degrees with a low of 3 degrees. From Feb. 11 to Feb. 17, only one day saw the high temperature rise above freezing. The mercury rose to 35 degrees on Feb. 13.

When the outdoor temperature is 3 degrees as it was on Feb. 16, and you want to heat your home to 60 degrees, your heater must overcome a 57-degree temperature gap. Many heaters ran almost non-stop on Feb. 15-16 just to keep up. This is how it also translates to extreme summer temperatures: You have your home’s thermostat set at 70 degrees. In summer, when the exterior temperature reaches 100 degrees, you have a 30-degree gap between inside and outside temperatures. This gap becomes smaller at night when temperatures come back down, so your AC unit doesn’t have to work as hard to overcome the difference.

Winter is a different story. The same thermostat setting of 70 degrees may have a daytime gap of about 20 degrees if the outside temperature is in the 50s. But when the sun sets, temperatures drop and the gap increases. And if temperatures dip into the 20s, your heating system is working against a 50-degree difference. That temperature gap would be equivalent to a 120-degree summer day. Plus, the nights are longer, so you are inside using more interior lighting, and the energy usage keeps growing. Even in Texas, it takes a lot of energy to overcome those winter nights.

More information about temperature gap and our home efficiency guide is at https://farmerselectric.coop/home-energy-efficiency-guide.

For all other questions, please contact our Member Care team by calling 903 455 1715 or by visiting our Contact Page.

 

February 21, 2021 | 1:00 pm
Members have been asking about how the historic weather event we all went through earlier this week may impact upcoming bills.

As of today, we don’t know all the costs associated with this extreme weather event. We should know more in the coming days, and we will post that information to our website. We do know this though; we will work to minimize the impact to our members, much like we worked to minimize the impact of the ERCOT mandated outages.

We know that usage increases this time of year, then starts to decrease with the mild Spring weather. Budget Billing helps to even out monthly bills so you pay about the same each month. A link to our Budget Billing video is below. Another resource is our HVAC tune up rebate. We encourage members to have their HVAC systems tuned up after the historic cold weather we’ve had the past week. The last link is to a video about Temperature Gap and another video on our Home Efficiency Guide.

For more than 80 years Farmers Electric has been committed to providing our members with safe and reliable energy and this extreme weather event is not going to change that.

 

February 19, 2021 | 11:20 am
Grid conditions have improved and ERCOT changed its status to NORMAL. Electricity demand and generation capacity are balanced. There is enough electric supply available to serve current demand on the grid. No action by consumers is needed.

February 19, 2021 | 10:15 am
Grid conditions continue to improve and ERCOT changed its status to an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) 1 CONSERVATION NEEDED. Farmers EC will continue to follow the direction of ERCOT.

February 19, 2021 | 9:00 am
Grid conditions are improving and ERCOT changed its status to an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) 2 CONSERVATION CRITICAL. Farmers EC will continue to follow the direction of ERCOT.

February 19, 2021 | 7:3 am
ERCOT’s status remains at Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) 3 CONSERVATION CRITICAL. Generation supply remained stable on Thursday, and ERCOT did not issue any controlled or rotating outages. This marked the first full day without a load shed event since early Monday. Should generation conditions change, Farmers EC will continue to follow the direction of ERCOT.

 

February 18, 2021 | 1:30 pm
ERCOT’s status remains at Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) 3 CONSERVATION CRITICAL. The ERCOT forecast for this afternoon and into the evening is showing an increase in demand for electricity and a decrease in supply. There is a possibility that we may be required to resume controlled, rotating, outages. ERCOT’s grid conditions are at ERCOT.com

February 18, 2021 | 7:45am
As a result of increased generation and stable demand, Farmers Electric has been able to cease controlled, or rotating, outages.

 

February 17, 2021 | 1:00pm
Farmers Electric proposed to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) an alteration in the method of compliance with previously established guidelines concerning rotating outages.

In an effort to improve the situation for Farmers members suffering under ERCOT imposed rotating outages, Farmers petitioned ERCOT to include previously excluded portions of its electric power system, except for emergency service centers like fire departments and nursing homes, for purposes of rotating outages.

More portions of the Farmers electric distribution system will now be subject to rotating outages.

The resulting improvements to Farmers members will be longer durations of electricity availability and a more equitable distribution of rotating outages across the system.

Farmers Electric Cooperative continues to seek ways to improve its members’ situations caused by the serious weather emergency while maintaining safety and grid stability.

February 17, 2021 | 7:45am
We are continuing to monitor the ERCOT grid conditions. ERCOT is posting information on its efforts to its Facebook page. The grid conditions are constantly changing and will continue to do so this morning with the outdoor temperatures. Low temperatures this morning and increased power demand may result in direction from ERCOT to once again reduce additional load. As of this time, ERCOT has operating reserves of about 1540 MW which is very low. Hopefully ERCOT can bring some generation back online so things will improve.

Who is in control of this situation?

ERCOT mandates when and how much load must be shed. We determine the portion of the electric system, avoiding hospitals, patient treatment centers, nursing homes, and other emergency or health care facilities. See ERCOT.com for grid conditions and an outlook on the projected supply and demand for electricity.

ERCOT social media updates can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/ERCOTISO/

Why rotating outages?

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) oversees and manages the electric grid system of generation and transmission. About 30,000 megawatts of generation failed Sunday, February 14 due to the extreme cold weather. ERCOT mandates load shedding because there’s not enough generation to serve the demand.

General Questions

Why can’t you tell me when the rotating outages related to this winter weather emergency will end?
The rotating outages related to the current winter weather emergency will end when enough electric generators resume operations to provide the electric needs of Texas. Currently, there is still not enough generation to provide adequate electricity. One current cause of problems is lack of water which is not frozen or curtailed. Power plants require large amounts of water to operate. With temperatures below freezing, water availability has also become a limiting factor for power plants to provide enough energy.

Why does it seem like larger, neighboring utilities are handling rotating outages differently? There seem to be some of their customers that aren’t out of power like I am.
All utilities across the state have been ordered to drop power load—that’s the case for all Texans in their homes just like you are and just like we are. The only way to accomplish this for any utility is through controlled outages. The method of doing this varies by utility. We understand that some utilities are not rotating outages, but instead are leaving large numbers of their customers with extended outages instead of affecting customers with intermittent outages. Farmers is using rotating outages. Farmers members are experiencing power outages regularly for minutes, instead of leaving any group of members without power for days.

Why so often?

ERCOT determines each electric company’s share of total demand. We must shed or curtail this load until enough generation becomes available. We have a smaller service area, so the same areas come up for rotation more often.

Who picks the portions of the electric system that have outages?

They are picked by software designed to match the load shed requirements. Because of the enormous amount of load required to be shed, all available portions of the system are experiencing rotating outages. Some areas near points of critical infrastructure like hospitals will likely not experience the same kind of outages as providers work to keep the power on for those specific areas. Members may experience multiple outage rotations. They are necessary to maintain reliability of the system.

How long will it last?

Rotating outages that started at 1:25 a.m. Monday are still underway.

These outages are taking place across Texas. ERCOT does not know when this will end.

ERCOTs’s website, ERCOT.com and their ERCOT mobile app, both provide graphs predicting the load and available generation. Based on those graphs, rotating outages will continue thought the day. This is subject to change if more generation can get started to serve the load.

Other Information:

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Risks
Generators, camp stoves, charcoal grills, and similar heat sources should never be used indoors. Keep them outside and at least 20 feet away from windows. These types of heat sources burn fuel which emit carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can kill you.

Attempting to stay warm in a running, parked car is also a potential source of carbon monoxide poisoning. Be extremely cautious; ensure adequate airflow around exhaust pipes or mufflers. Never remain in a running car in a closed space such as a garage.

Visit https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm for more information about carbon monoxide poisoning

Food Safety
If power has been out consistently, the food in refrigerators will stay good for about four hours and food in the freezer stays good for about 48 hours according to ready.gov. Don’t eat food that has been exposed to temperatures over 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours or has an off smell, color, or texture.

Warming Stations
During extended outages or extreme temperatures, it may be necessary to seek shelter outside your home. If it is safe to travel, community resources may be available in your area for warming and charging stations. Find more details about community resources and warming centers by calling 877-541-7905 or 2-1-1, Texas’ free 24-hour helpline.

 

What should I do when I lose power?

If you lose power, here are a few steps you can take to stay warm:

    • Close any blinds/curtains or put blankets or towels up to cover windows and provide insulation.
    • Close off rooms to avoid losing heat.
    • Stuff towels in cracks under doors, esp. exterior ones.
    • Wear layers of loose fitting, warm clothing, especially warm socks and gloves if you have them.
    • Eat and drink food to provide energy to warm the body but avoid alcohol or caffeine.
    • If you have candles, lighting them can help act as a heat source, especially in an enclosed space. But do not rely on them, and remember to practice good fire safety.

Caution concerning other power sources:

    • Under no circumstances should you bring a generator inside. They should remain 30 feet away from your home.
    • Don’t use a stove or oven for heat, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

How can I conserve power?

Experts explained that even taking a few small steps to reduce power consumption in your home can help our communities:

    • Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees, at the highest.
    • Keep lights off when not in a room.
    • Unplug appliances not in use.
    • Avoid using large appliances like washing machines, esp. during peak times.
    • Close off heat escape routes like drafty doors or fireplace dampers (when not in use).
    • Close blinds and shades at night to keep out cold air. Open them during the day to allow sunshine in.

When should I contact Farmers EC?

Members without power for longer than 45 minutes should report outages by using Report An Outage or by texting OUT to 85700.  If you are not enrolled for text alerts, text FEC to 85700 to start using this convenient service. Members may also call 903-455-1715 or use SmartHub.

Remember to stay away from downed power lines. Please report these to Farmers EC at 903-455-1715 or to your local emergency officials. Crews are staged across our service area to respond to any problems.

For all other issues, please contact our Member Care team at 903-455-1715 or use the Contact Us feature on SmartHub. Hold times have increased due to ERCOT’s call for rotating outages.