Tuesday, 02 March, 2021

Texas starts rolling power outages to cope with deep freeze

Snowplows works to clear the road during a winter storm Sunday Feb. 14 2021 in Oklahoma City. Snow and ice blanketed large swaths of the U.S. on Sunday prompting canceled flights making driving perilous and reaching into areas as far south as Texas Power cut across Texas during nasty winter storm
Cary Erickson | 16 February, 2021, 05:17

About four inches of snow fell at the Dallas airport. Firewood is selling out.

Scripps station KXXV in Waco, Texas reports that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has declared a level 3 alert - the council's highest possible emergency level - and has instructed utility companies across the state to rotate power outages to conserve energy. Power will be dropped for one hour, then on one hour throughout the night.

U.S. President Joe Biden approved the state's emergency declaration, unlocking federal assistance to tackle the rare deep freeze. LNG exports from the USA also plummeted after the freeze shut ports and wells, and oil production also took a hit, with Permian oil production plunging by as much as one million barrels a day.

These are the first rolling blackouts caused by cold weather since 2011 in Texas.

"Severe wind and ice conditions caused extensive damage to the electric system, with utilities reporting thousands of downed power lines, as well as damage to transmission lines and substations", Brown said in a statement issued on Sunday.

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The spot price of electricity on the Texas power grid spiked more than 10,000 per cent on Monday, according to data on the grid operator's website.

Of the 25,000-plus megawatts of wind power capacity normally available in Texas, 12,000 megawatts was out of service on Sunday morning, an ERCOT spokesperson said. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cut to crude supplies is threatening to unleash a rush for everything from propane to heating oil, fuels that are used in mobile heating devices.

Forecasts call for heavy snow and freezing rain to spread across a larger swath of central and eastern sections of the country through Monday, with a storm front in the West likely to dump 1 to 2 feet of snow in the Cascades and northern Rockies through Tuesday, according to the weather service.

"It is going to be a cold week", said David Roth, a senior branch forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.