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Rolling Blackouts Likely to Continue for "a Matter of Hours," PUC Says (Updated)

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The rolling blackouts that have been ordered in an effort to relieve Texas's electricity grid will likely continue for hours, Public Utilities Commission spokesman Terry Hadley tells Hair Balls.

"It's probably a matter of hours, but I'm not going to give any predictions," he said. Fifty electricity-producing plants have been affected, plants which account for "10 to 15 percent of the total electricity needed," he said.

ERCOT, the co-op that oversees Texas's electricity distribution, said earlier this morning that 7,000 megawatts of electricity were out of service.

As to whether rolling blackouts will be needed tomorrow or later this week, Hadley at least tried to sound hopeful.

"Not knowing the specifics about what caused those plants to go out, I would assume whatever issue caused it would be remedied and not re-occur," he said. "But the key now is getting them back up."

ERCOT and the PUC are calling for residents to conserve as much electricity as possible when power is available.

Some of their advice:

-- Limit electricity usage to only that consumption which is absolutely necessary. Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances and electronic equipment.

-- Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.

-- Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing nonessential production processes.

Governor Rick Perry issued a statement:

Because of winter weather conditions that have created an unprecedented demand on the state's energy grid, many Texans across our state are experiencing power outages today.

Texas power and emergency management experts are working very closely with ERCOT and various utility providers to ensure power is restored as quickly as possible. Until that happens, I urge businesses and residents to conserve electricity to minimize the impact of this event.

Update: ERCOT is saying the rolling blackouts should be ending, although they may have to be resumed.

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