Texas' Real-Life Case for Lighting Control
February 15: A scheduled power-grid blackout affects residents east of I-35, while unused commercial spaces across the interstate light up downtown Austin.
Empty city buildings remain illuminated while rolling power outages leave Texas residents in the cold and dark.
As winter storms hit Texas this week, the largest energy-producing state has had its power grid challenged as over 2 million Texans were without power for extended periods of time this week. Many of the problems stemmed from equipment at electric generating plants not being able to operate in winter weather conditions.
In large metro areas like Dallas, Houston and Austin scheduled rolling blackouts turned off power to residential areas, but areas with hospitals and government services were untouched. While families were in the cold and in the dark, many people on social media and in newsrooms were asking why empty, non-essential commercial downtown buildings were brightly lit.
Turning off unused commercial lights would not solve all of the electrical grid challenges, but it would contribute to the conservation effort. As residents are being asked to conserve energy by convening in one room and unplugging unused wall chargers, commercial buildings with brightly illuminated facades came under fire.
The technology for remote lighting control exists and if it were widely used, some downtown companies could be helping the conservation mission while avoiding the bad optics of sucking energy from the grid while suburban families struggle without power.
Some viewpoints from Austin, TX:
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