Texas energy crisis: ERCOT directs utilities to restore power to 600,000 customers


Texas energy crisis: ERCOT directs utilities to restore power to 600,000 customers

UPDATE: 6:07 a.m.
ERCOT officials said Wednesday morning that they were able to direct utilities to restore power to 600,000 households last night. While progress is being made, 2.7 million households were still without power across Texas.

UPDATE: 6:10 p.m.
CenterPoint Energy officials have tweeted to warn customers to prepare now for the possibility of additional power outages. Essentially they warn anyone who has power may soon lose it.

They said ERCOT directed them again to reduce electric system load. CenterPoint promised they intend to restore power once there is sufficient supply to do so.

At the same time, in a live interview with ABC13, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for the resignation of the ERCOT board members. He called this week’s unprecedented power outages a “total failure.”

UPDATE: 5 p.m.
There was some fortunate news in the effort to restore power to millions of Texans in the wake of the unprecedented winter storm.

By late Tuesday afternoon, more than 1.2 million customers had power restored, down from a total of 4.3 million reported at 8:30 a.m. There still remained some 3.1 million customers still without power, with CenterPoint’s Houston Region accounting for 1.2 million of that total.

But there is some misfortune to come with that. According to CenterPoint, some of those customers still without power could face a reality where heat and lights could remain off for days. That news came down ahead of another forecast winter weather system that should bring freezing rain and additional days of extreme cold temperatures through the rest of the work week.

CenterPoint offered some optimism on Tuesday, saying it expected to restore power to a large portion of the impacted customers between today and Wednesday.

Further, ERCOT, the nonprofit council that oversees the state’s energy supply, said while some generation is back, others have gone offline.

Of course, ERCOT also mentioned the need for time to get those plants back online.

Earlier reporting: The record power demand cripples Texas

Just the day before, grid managers declared an emergency after the record-breaking energy use strained utilities beyond capacity.

Earlier Tuesday, new information indicated that there will be a window in the afternoon where ERCOT hopes to get more power generation, a source at a power company tells ABC13. However, it likely won’t be enough to get a lot of customers back online.

The source says the generation this afternoon is almost all wind power.

They expect about 10 to 15% of outages to be restored by mid-afternoon, but the majority of households experiencing outages should expect to be without power for the full day again Tuesday.

The source told ABC13 there are a lot of “what ifs” and uncertainty, but it does not seem like the majority of Texas will get power back on Tuesday.

The state is trying to get power from other grids that could help, but haven’t had much success. Restoration of power will be slow because there are fears of overloading the grid when people come back online all at once.

Grid managers declared an emergency after the record-breaking energy use Monday strained utilities beyond capacity.

The outages across Texas could stretch for days, due to multiple power generation plants that are offline, according to officials. An estimated 75% of Texas power generation capacity is impacted.

WATCH: How did we go from rolling blackouts to prolonged outages? Here’s what we know

On Monday afternoon, Montgomery County Pct. 3 Commissioner James Noack tweeted that he had a conference call with the Entergy CEO and learned the company hopes to have power restored to most of their customers between 5 and 6 p.m. The company planned to restore the power first to those who had been waiting the longest.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) declared an “energy emergency alert three,” also called an EEA 3, early Monday, as the third of three alert phases. In the first phase, the state looks to get electricity from other grids. The second stage shuts down large industrial users who’ve agreed to cut power in an emergency. The third phase is rotating outages.

Over 4 million customers were without power Tuesday morning across Texas, according to poweroutage.us.

ERCOT has issued an EEA level 3 because electric demand is very high and supplies can’t keep up. Reserves have dropped below 1,000 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes.

Electricity use Sunday night shattered a previous record set in 2018 as extreme cold weather and frozen precipitation blanketed the entire state, crippled transportation and put most of the state below freezing.

The last time the state had to implement rolling outages was in 2011 when another major storm brought cold, ice and snow as far south as the Rio Grande Valley.

Texplainer: Why does Texas have its own power grid?

The 2021 storm was poised to bring even colder temperatures to the Lone Star State for a longer period of time.

The CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, better known as ERCOT, announced Sunday that the supply of natural gas to power plants was limited, and half of the system’s wind turbines had frozen, keeping at least 12k megawatts offline. ERCOT has a grid condition alert system that is now in ‘conservation alert’ status as consumption spikes across the state.

Experts say outages are necessary to avoid turning off power to places like hospitals, police stations, fire stations, water and wastewater treatment facilities.

ERCOT in 2011 had to cut power to at least a million Texas homes during a record-breaking cold snap that year.

The similarities to the two situations are hard to miss: Both systems brought significantly colder temperatures, left roads unpassable with ice and snow, and led to some power facilities going offline due to the cold, leaving the state without enough power. In 2011, the state imported power from Mexico, according to ABC13 reporting at the time.

ERCOT officials said that lowering heaters to 68 degrees, closing shades to help keep heat in, and turning off non-essential appliances and lights can help conserve energy during the cold.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday warned that all of Texas faces an unprecedented winter storm and issued a state disaster declaration. President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state of Texas and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local response efforts.

RELATED: No electricity? Here are some tips to stay warm

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