Lamar Electric Cooperative general manager Jerry Williams is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the delivery of electricity, and we are fortunate to have him during these unprecedented times.
Through Lamar Electric Cooperative on Facebook, he keeps Lamar County informed not only about conditions facing his customers, but he provides useful background information about the Texas grid and the part the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, plays in its operation. He has definitely been a far more “reliable” source of information than the “reliability council” has been in making sure its grid provides power to Texans during the coldest winter storm in decades.
Throughout this arctic blast, Williams has posted almost daily as he explains what is happening and answers questions asked of him by his more than 5,000 followers and growing.
His most recent post explained why Lamar Electric customers would not see a rate increase in coming months while other providers may be forced to raise rates considerably because ERCOT is paying as much as $9 per kWh for its suppliers to generate power. Thankfully in 2019, Lamar Electric signed a three-year contract with a third party broker, which locks in costs to customers at roughly 9.442 cents per kWh plus a base charge of $12.50 per month, Williams said.
In another post, Williams explained why some customers never lost power while others suffered from blackouts, some rolling and others extended because of an increasing demand from ERCOT to decrease load. Because each provider knows months in advance its share of the total statewide load reduction it is responsible for, ERCOT orders for blackouts come with a statewide kilowatt number to shed, with each provider responsible to shed its proportionate share. As conditions change, sometimes hourly, ERCOT would update the statewide total number to shed.
“Certain loads, such as hospital and natural gas compressor stations, are not supposed to be turned off,” Williams said, explaining that Lamar Electric serves a compressor station (south of Paris) that supplies gas to a large generating plant near Denison.
When rolling blackouts ended Wednesday morning, Williams responded to a question, “Will blackouts return?” His response,“Maybe.” He then explained three Emergency Alert levels that ERCOT uses. Level One is when reserve generating power falls below a specified level, which triggers notification to the public to conserve power and customers that are purchasing interruptible power, start having their power interrupted. Level Two increases what was done in Level One, and Level Three results in a rolling blackout order.
I join the many others in the comment section to Williams’ posts, thanking him for his transparency, his educational information and for the work linemen perform out in the cold day in and day out.