Important information about critical-load and medical critical-care status, energy emergencies and ERCOT-ordered load-shed events.
Senate Bill 3, which was passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2021, requires retail electric utilities to provide consumers with information regarding procedures related to mandatory load-shed events ordered by ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
ERCOT is responsible for managing the electric grid and ensuring there is a sufficient supply of electricity to meet consumer demand for most of Texas. When there is not sufficient electric generation to meet consumer demand, ERCOT may order electric market participants to take steps to increase generation and reduce consumer demand. One of those steps may include ordering retail utilities such as Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative to initiate controlled, rotating outages that temporarily interrupt power to consumers.
Bluebonnet designates its electric distribution circuits into three categories:
- Circuits with critical load, such as fire, law enforcement and EMS facilities; emergency rooms and hospitals; critical natural gas production and pipeline facilities and critical water and wastewater facilities.
- Circuits designated for Under Frequency Load Shed; another step in ERCOT’s mandated energy emergency response to stabilize the electric grid.
- Circuits included in ERCOT-ordered temporary, controlled rotating outages.
Nonresidential members that qualify as public safety, industrial or natural gas production and pipeline facilities may qualify as critical load.
- Public safety: a member for whom electric service is critical to maintain public safety; including but not limited to hospitals, emergency rooms, fire, EMS, police and sheriff’s facilities, and critical water and wastewater facilities.
- Industrial: a member for whom an interruption in electric service would create a dangerous condition or significant disruption on the member’s premises.
- Natural gas infrastructure: a member that provides natural gas used to generate electricity at a natural gas-fired power plant, including natural gas production and pipeline facilities.
Nonresidential members in the public safety and industrial categories can apply for critical-load status by downloading and completing and submitting this form by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nonresidential members in the natural gas category can apply for critical-load status by downloading, completing Texas Railroad Commission critical infrastructure forms that can be found at rrc.texas.gov/critical-infrastructure/critical-infrastructure-forms/. Completed forms may be submitted by email to email@example.com.
Critical-load status does not guarantee or ensure uninterrupted electric service, or exclude members from being included in ERCOT-ordered rotating outages or planned service interruptions. Members with critical-load status are encouraged to have plans in place for on-site back-up generation in the event of power outages.
Members with questions regarding critical-load status may contact Thomas Ellis, Bluebonnet’s manager of engineering, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bluebonnet members who have critical-care medical conditions diagnosed by a physician and rely on life-sustaining medical equipment may register with Bluebonnet. Members can register for medical critical-care status by downloading, completing and submitting this form by email to email@example.com.
Members with questions regarding medical critical care status may contact us
Members with medical critical-care status are not guaranteed or ensured uninterrupted electric service. Nor are they excluded from ERCOT-ordered rotating outages, planned service interruptions or disconnection for nonpayment. Members with medical critical-care status are encouraged to have plans in place in the event of power outages.
When ERCOT orders utilities to reduce electric demand through controlled, rotating outages, Bluebonnet members served by circuits designated for load shedding may experience temporary outages. Due to the nature of ERCOT energy emergencies and rapidly changing electric grid conditions during controlled, rotating outages, Bluebonnet will not be able to notify individual members when they will be in an outage, or tell them how long rotating outages will last.
In the event of ERCOT-ordered rotating outages, members are encouraged to take a few simple steps to reduce their energy demand. Reducing energy demand may shorten the duration of energy emergencies and improve electric grid performance, making it easier to restore power to circuits during rotating outages. Steps to reduce energy demand can be found on Bluebonnet’s website.