A massive winter storm has left millions of Texans without power as the state’s power grid was rendered inoperable due to an arctic freeze.
Parts of Dallas, Houston and other major cities remain shrouded in darkness as what were once controlled rolling power cuts have been implemented as officials try to restore power to more than four million people, according to Bloomberg.
“They began as rotating outages but have become longer,” Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said during a Tuesday briefing, according to Bloomberg.
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which controls a 14-state grid stretching from North Dakota all the way to Oklahoma, announced Tuesday morning that they would be implementing rolling blackouts.
“It’s a last resort that we understand puts a burden on our member utilities and the customers they serve, but it’s a step we’re consciously taking to prevent circumstances from getting worse, which could result in uncontrolled outages of even greater magnitude,” SPP’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lanny Nickell said in a statement.
After declaring an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 at 10:08 a.m. this morning, and after exhausting all other options to ensure the continued reliability of the regional grid, SPP is directing member utilities to implement controlled interruptions of service effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/I6DY8B5Rvn
— Southwest Power Pool (@SPPorg) February 15, 2021
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted that the outages are no longer controlled, however.
These are not rolling blackouts. We are dealing with systemwide power outages across the state. st
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 15, 2021
The outages began after a historic winter storm swept through the area, bringing freezing wind and ice storms. The wintery weather rendered wind turbines inoperable, according to Dallas Morning News. The increased demand for energy within the state, along with inoperable power sources, has left millions in the dark. (RELATED: Terrifying Video Shows A Semi-Truck Losing Control On An Icy Road In Texas)
“We are experiencing record-breaking electric demand due to the extreme cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCT) President and CEO Bill Magness said in a statement.
Energy sources that were powering the ERCT were knocked off-line, with most of them having been powered by natural gas, coal or nuclear energy, according to Houston Public Radio. The grid was already facing issues because of frozen wind turbines and a limited supply of gas, according to the report.
Oncor, which says they deliver electric to more than ten million Texans, warned customers to prepare for extended outages as of Tuesday morning.
EMERGENCY UPDATE: At this time, @ERCOT_ISO is unable to predict when grid conditions will stabilize. All customers are urged to be prepared for cont’ extended outages. Please also prioritize safety. Warming stations are available in many areas- check online or call 211 for more.
— Oncor (@oncor) February 16, 2021
The power outages highlight how as the nation moves away from fossil fuels toward green energy that relies on more renewable sources, grids become more vulnerable too, according to Bloomberg.
Wind surpassed coal as an energy source in Texas in 2019, with wind energy coming in just below natural gas, according to CNN.
The storm has left at least 12 individuals dead, including a woman and a young girl who suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning after they apparently left a car running in the garage to help warm the house which had been left without power, according to Houston Police.