Houston area braces for extreme heat as officials advise conservation of electricity – Houston Public Media
Houston’s heat index was expected to hit 107 degrees on Wednesday, a day after the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for parts of Southeast Texas and amid a warning of potential outages from the grid operator electric power station due to the high demand for electricity.
The heat index could reach 112 degrees later in the week, and NWS meteorologists were discussing Wednesday morning whether to issue a warning again.
“In general, we like to see a heat index of 108,” said Tim Cady, a Houston NWS meteorologist. “We’re very close to that right now.”
Cady added that temperatures would likely stay high heading into the weekend.
According to the city of Houston’s website, the region’s heat index must reach 108 degrees for two consecutive days before the city’s public health emergency plan can be implemented, which would open several centers. cooling across town.
The city was planning to adhere to its activation plan, according to Porfirio Villarreal of the Houston Health Department.
“The Houston Department of Health’s full-service centers will only open as cooling centers when a thermal emergency is declared,” he wrote in an email.
Whether or not these centers open could impact Houston’s homeless population, who will have to endure two full days of scorching heat until they can access the city’s cooling centers.
Members of the Homeless Coalition will be taking to the streets over the next few days in an effort to support homeless people, according to Sara Martinez, the organization’s vice president of development.
“Homeless outreach teams will equip themselves with bottled water, portable ventilators and other supplies, to distribute to people who are homeless,” Martinez wrote.
Martinez added that outreach teams will also provide transport to shelters, indoor services and cooling centers.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, issued a warning Monday advising residents to save electricity until Friday due to forced blackouts at power plants, combined with the extreme heat – which caused record energy demand, according to the announcement. .
This is the second time the company has asked for energy savings since the February winter storm left millions of Texans without power for days as they suffered record temperatures.
SB 3 does not add any significant reserve capacity to the Texas grid and now and this summer Texas is facing continued blackouts. The legislator spent too much time on other things and not enough time to settle #ERCOT. st
– Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) June 16, 2021
Mayor Sylvester Turner blamed state leaders on Tuesday for the lack of change in the state’s electricity grid since the February storm, and said the city would activate contingency plans if necessary.
“It is extremely disappointing that the legislature and heads of state have yet to resolve our electricity grid problems,” Turner wrote in a statement. posted on Twitter. “The City of Houston will do everything possible to ensure the protection of the elderly and the most vulnerable. “
The city has also asked downtown business owners to reduce their energy use until Friday, according to Angie Bertinot, director of marketing and communications for the Houston Downtown Management District.
Throughout the February storm, several office buildings in downtown Houston continued to light up the night sky, despite being advised to conserve energy. After coming under pressure from municipal authorities, many of these buildings eventually turned dark.
“We emailed our downtown stakeholders… asking them to do everything possible to reduce the demand for electricity,” Bertinot wrote. “This would include turning off non-essential lighting and controlling the HVAC to minimize power consumption.”
If conditions worsen, potential blackouts could again affect the Houston area, according to a statement from Centerpoint Energy, which is responsible for sending electricity to millions of Houstonians.
The company stressed that the decision would be made by ERCOT, not Centerpoint.
“Customers in the Houston area need to prepare now and have a back-up plan in place, especially those who depend on electricity for life support equipment,” the statement said.
The heat is also said to have an impact on the Texas prison system, as many prisons do not provide air conditioning to inmates.
As a result, the Department of Criminal Justice has been sued several times over the past 10 years for heat-related illness and death, costing the state millions of dollars in litigation costs.
A bill, which was passed by Texas House in the 2021 legislative session, seeks to rectify these problems by requiring all Texas prisons to install air conditioning units by 2029.
A spokesperson for TDCJ said the state prison system already has thermal protocols that go into effect each year in May.
“In areas that do not have full air conditioning, respite areas are available 24/7 with a series of other precautions,” the statement said. “Over the past two years, we have identified all heat sensitive inmates from a heat standpoint and are making sure they are housed in air-conditioned accommodation areas.”
According to the TDCJ website, several precautions are taken after the heat index exceeds 90 degrees. Once this happens, incarcerated people have the right to have a fan, extra water and ice, and extra showers when possible.
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