Published: Tue, February 16, 2021

Rare Deep Freeze Leaves More Than 2 Million Texas Customers Without Power

Rare Deep Freeze Leaves More Than 2 Million Texas Customers Without Power

Ice storms knocked out almost half the wind-power generating capacity of Texas on Sunday as a rare deep freeze across the state locked up turbine towers while driving electricity demand to record levels, the state's grid operator reported.

The energy crisis that crippled Texas's power system and sent energy prices soaring to record levels is deepening with at least four million people across the central US taking turns being plunged into darkness to avoid a total collapse of their grids.

"This weather event, it's really unprecedented".

Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Saturday in nine counties due to the severe winter weather that resulted in heavy snow and ice accumulation, high winds, critical transportation failures, and loss of power and communications capabilities.

Responding to a request from Governor Greg Abbott, President Joe Biden granted a federal emergency declaration for all 254 counties in the state on Sunday, authorising U.S. agencies to coordinate disaster relief from severe weather in Texas.

Several cities in the US saw record lows as Artic air remained over the central part of the country.

"We anticipate we will need to continue these controlled outages for the rest of today and perhaps all day tomorrow", Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which managed the state's power grid, said during a briefing Monday. Dallas, which was forecast to see a low of 2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 17 degrees Celsius) late Monday, will reach a high of 29 by Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. Oil production in the Permian Basin has dropped by 1 million barrels a day, helping US crude prices to trade above $60 a barrel for the first time in more than year. The Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities across 14 states, called for rolling outages because the supply of reserve energy had been exhausted. Utilities there haven't had to carry out rolling blackouts since 2011.

In Houston, where county leaders had warned that the deteriorating conditions could create problems on the scale of massive hurricanes that slam the Gulf Coast, one electric provider said power may not be restored to some homes until Tuesday. By midmorning, 3,000 flights had been canceled across the country, about 1,600 of them at Dallas/Fort Worth International and Bush Intercontinental airports in Texas. "The southern plains are in a cold pattern and it is going to take a while for them to break out of it".

The spot price of electricity on the Texas power grid spiked more than 10,000% on Monday.

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