Xcel officials say customers won’t suffer blackouts

Xcel Energy officials are confident their Texas and New Mexico customers will be all right, even with the possibiilty of rolling blackouts in the Texas energy grid, but noted that conservation is always helpful in the heat of May through August.

"It's a little bit down from where we were last year," Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves said of power usage for Xcel's New Mexico customers. "We didn't have nearly as much heat. It's still hot, but we didn't have nearly as much."

Reeves said customers have been in touch with the company over concerns of media reports about possible rolling blackouts in Texas. But he notes it's a confusing situation because not all of Texas is part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) power grid, and Xcel's Texas and New Mexico service areas are part of the Southwest Power Pool in the eastern electrical grid.

"Looking ahead into the summer, we know we've got enough resources," Reeves said. "If we have a storm take out a key transmission line or some unplanned maintenance, it would be a load on our system."

But conservation is still key, according to Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Co., an Xcel Energy company.

"We nevertheless want to help customers better manage their electricity usage, while lessening the overall strain on our system," Hill said in a release.

Reeves said some of the easiest ways to help conserve power include putting off chores until the later hours, so there is less need for air conditioning and less strain on the power delivery infrastructure when everybody gets home at the same time.

Tips Reeves suggested include:

  • Raising the thermostat setting from 72 to 78 degrees, providing a savings of up to $25 per month.
  • Turning off unnecessary lighting and installing compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs — which use 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs, they last longer, and can save up to $55 over the life of the bulb.
  • Running washing machines, dishwashers and clothes dryers with full loads. Washing dishes in the sink reduces the load even further, Reeves said.
  • Changing air conditioning filters.
  • Using ceiling fans to cool the home.

Residential customers account for 18 percent of Xcel's power sales, while industry accounts for 41 percent and commercial 31 percent. Reeves said in the case of the latter two, the effort is more towards efficient use of energy.

"We have a lot of efficiency programs they can use," Reeves said. "There are rebates for lighting, some special offers on retrofitting motors and drives. That helps them reduce their usage. Businesses can't always conserve, because they've got products to produce. We try to help them use the energy they have more wisely. If they can accomplish more with the same amount of energy, it's doing them some good and it's doing us some good as well."

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