ERCOT restoring power to half a million Texans, but widespread outages continue
By Catherine Marfin, Krista M. Torralva and Tom Steele February 15, 2021
Thousands, if not millions, of Texans may still wake up without power Tuesday morning as the state’s power grid operators continue calls for controlled outages to relieve stress on the exasperated system.
More than 2 million homes and businesses were without electricity Monday during extreme weather conditions while the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the agency that oversees the state’s power grid, instructed transmission companies, like Oncor, to limit power availability.
Outages began at 1:25 a.m. Monday, ERCOT said, and they are expected to last into Tuesday, “perhaps all day,” said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT’s senior director of system operations.
But many Dallas residents were left without power for 12 hours and counting while their neighbors might not have experienced any outages.
Part of the problem, Woodfin said, was that operators avoid critical areas where there are hospitals and emergency responders, so they are bound to certain neighborhoods which is why certain areas experienced frequent and long-lasting outages, he said.
“Because of the amount of load shed that we’ve required in order to balance supply and demand, they really don’t have enough options to be able to rotate between different areas so they’re basically having to take all of the areas that don’t meet one of those critical or technical criteria,” Woodfin said. “They can’t rotate through them and still reduce the demand by the amount that we need that we need to maintain reliability.”
The cold weather also caused commercial power outages and downed lines for Spectrum customers. In a notification to its customers, the internet, phone and TV service provider said services would be restored after several hours.
Fort Worth officials issued a water boil notice Monday afternoon for the north part of the city, citing multiple power outages at the Eagle Mountain Water Plant. About 100,000 people were affected, and many of them were left without water.
“(ERCOT) owes the people of Texas answers,” State Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) wrote on Twitter. “This is an unprecedented weather situation, yes. But the preparation, the response and the communication with Texans have been entirely unacceptable. We must identify the problems and their causes and fix them now.”
ERCOT’s Woodfin said the agency has “tried to work with the generators to develop best practices for winterization.”