Over two million people are in the dark due to rolling blackouts to stop a system-wide power outage
The state of Texas continued to reel under a deep freeze, leaving utilities scrambling to meet record power demand and forcing the state’s grid operator to enforce rotating blackouts early on Monday, putting over two million Texans in the dark.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has sought to cut power use in response to a winter record of 69,150 megawatts (MW) on Sunday evening, more than 3,200 MW higher than the previous winter peak in January 2018.
Rotating power outages were initiated by ERCOT early Monday morning, meaning thousands went without electricity for short periods as temperatures fell into the teens near Dallas and -5C (around 20F) around Houston.
The Panhandle saw the lowest temperatures, dropping to -9F (-22C) around Amarillo.
Reserves have dropped below 1,000 MW and transmission companies have been ordered to reduce demand on system, ERCOT said.
Poweroutage.us, a utilities tracking site in the United States, said 2,382,119 Texans were without power as of 7:35am local time (13:35 GMT).
“We urge Texans to put safety first,” the council tweeted as it urged residents to reduce electricity use. ERCOT manages the flow of electric power in the state.
“Traffic lights and other infrastructure may be temporarily without power,” ERCOT said.
A level-three emergency notice was issued by the regulator, urging customers to limit power usage and prevent an uncontrolled system-wide outage.
The storms knocked out nearly half the wind power generation capacity of Texas on Sunday.
Wind generation ranks as the second-largest source of electricity in Texas, accounting for 23 percent of state power supplies last year behind natural gas, which served 45 percent, ERCOT estimates.
Energy traders last week said that some five-minute power prices in Texas approached $4,000 per megawatt hour. That compares with an ERCOT North average of $26 in 2020.