Texas weather: 100million under winter storm warning as blackouts could last for weeks

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Texas, which traditionally sees average temperatures in the high single figures during February, has declared a state of emergency. A vicious winter storm has caused power outages across the state, leaving people vulnerable to sub-zero temperatures. Deaths have started mounting over the last few days, and authorities warn Texans will have to endure for potentially weeks to come.

Texas’ power problem comes from increased demand, amid the record low temperatures.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which governs the state’s lone power grid, has introduced rolling outages to prevent more.

ERCOT’s leaders don’t envision a swift end to the hardships experienced by many of its customers.

While they have prioritised returning power, they can’t say exactly when this could happen.

Speaking to NBC 5, Bill Magness, ERCOT president and CEO, said his organisation hopes to restore power within the week.

Current trends seem promising, he said, which could mean “larger numbers” of people could see their power return.

Mr Mgness told the broadcaster: “The honest answer is we are constantly bringing on new supply, new generation, that is fixing problems that are caused by the storm, or otherwise, and as we manage that we are able to serve more demand.

“Now, that doesn’t give me the ability to tell you honestly that it’s going to be ‘X’ number of people on a certain date.”

“We think that if the trends we’re seeing today continue we should be able to restore, or ask Oncor and the other utilities to restore, most customers, hopefully in larger numbers.”

ERCOT’s controlled outages will help keep Texas’ grid intact, but these may need to continue for some time to prevent further blackouts.

As the most severe form of outage, blackouts can lead to weeks of reconstructive work.

Mr Magness added: “A blackout is not under control.”

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“A blackout means rebuilding large parts of an electric system.

“A blackout means your power is out for an indefinite, undetermined period of time.

“As catastrophic as this feels, these are controlled outages and we can turn things back on.

“What we’ve done by implementing these outages is to avoid that catastrophic risk.”

ERCOT’s success hinges on the weather, and warnings for Texas are due to expire tomorrow.

The National Weather Service (NWS) winter storm warning states “dangerous and potentially destructive freezing rain” will persist until Thursday at 6am, but not before causing more power outage risks.

The warning adds: “Ice amounts are expected to range from a trace to a tenth of an inch along north of the Highway 59 corridor with higher amounts in excess of one quarter inch north of a line from Columbus to Conroe to Livingston.

“There is the potential for this magnitude of ice to be very destructive, with the potential to create additional power outages and vegetation and tree damage.”

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