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“No end in sight” for rolling power outages says ERCOT

Currently, 2-3 million customers are without power in Texas
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 5:49 PM CST
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AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) - The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) provided an update to their winter weather response Tuesday afternoon.

ERCOT instructed electric utilities throughout the state to begin instituting rolling outages to help rebalance the electric grid Monday morning. The rolling outages, and other outages caused by the winter storm, have continued into Tuesday with no clear end in sight.

Currently, 2-3 million customers are without power in Texas.

Dan Woodfin, Senior Director of System Operations at ERCOT, said this winter event has caused the highest power usage in Texas than ever before and there is a huge need to rebalance the electric grid.

According to Woodfin, the rolling outages are helping to stabilize the grid. He said if the grid had been left too long out of balance it could have had catastrophic impacts that could’ve taken a very long time to repair.

When asked how many power plants might have failed during this winter weather, ERCOT officials said they didn’t know.

More grids were able to be brought back online in some areas the day progressed, but he said they might have to take some back offline if things like the weather don’t change by this evening.

With another winter storm expected Tuesday night, Woodfin said that the sunny day has helped with collecting solar power on the system. As the weather warms up, Woodfin is hopeful that some of the issues they’ve been dealing with will get better.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done to fix the power grids and rolling outage are one of the top solutions. Many in the Brazos Valley have dealt with the rolling outages since Monday morning, and ERCOT said it is up to the utility provides to choose what locations get disconnected.

Bryan Texas Utilities has said that any power grid that has an essential service, such as a hospital, police department or fire station, on it will not be included in the rolling outages. That’s why some neighborhoods in Brazos County haven’t been affected by the forced blackouts.

When asked about how a disaster like this could be prevented in the future, ERCOT said they have plans in place to cover normal extreme weather conditions, but that this is beyond normal. They plan to get through this event, then look back at best practices and make a plan from there.

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