Power Outages Still Concern a Steamy Texas

With temperatures again soaring near the century mark, Texas' power officials hope to avoid another powerless afternoon commute. On Monday North Texas drivers were slowed by nonfunctioning traffic signals and extra traffic congestion brought on by rolling power outages in Houston, Austin and Dallas.

Late Monday the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state's power grid, ordered a planned outage to cope with the system's extra demand.

Most of the outages in the Dallas area lasted a matter of minutes and never affected critical customers like hospitals and emergency services, said Carol Peters, a spokeswoman for TXU, the power distributor for North Texas.

The council said it anticipated adequate generation for Tuesday's electricity demand but was still asking Texas electric consumers to conserve during peak hours due to the continuing high temperatures.

The state predicted a peak load of 53,000 megawatts today and is scheduled to generate 58,000 megawatts.

According to the Electric Reliability Council, 15 percent of the state's power supply was offline for seasonal maintenance, which is usually scheduled in April because of the month's mild temperatures and the lower demand for electricity. Some power units that were out for maintenance will come back online for peak usage on Tuesday.

Power losses in Houston caught many at Rice University off-guard, and one student was temporarily trapped in an elevator. Annie Paterson, who attends Rice, told Houston's KTRK-TV, "I was in my room doing homework and the lights started to dim and then all of the sudden they went off and my roommate was in the shower."

Local forecasters expect Texas's mini heatwave to be short-lived. Troy Duncan, chief meteorologist at WFAA-TV in Dallas, expects temperatures to return to the mid 70s on Wednesday as a cool front moves through early that morning.