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Cold snap leaves one dead, over 4 million without power in Texas

CommoditiesFeb 16, 2021 04:56AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Wind turbines stand above the plains north of Amarillo, Texas 2/2

By Maria Caspani

(Reuters) - At least one person was dead and more than 4 million were without power in Texas after a rare deep freeze forced the state's electric grid operator to impose rotating blackouts because of higher power demand.

The cause of the death of the person was suspected to be exposure to "extreme low temperatures", Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said on Twitter.

The PowerOutage.us website, which tracks power outages, said 4,113,701 Texas customers were experiencing outages at 2:05 a.m. ET (0705 GMT) on Tuesday.

The cold snap sweeping Texas reached the northern part of neighboring Mexico as well, where authorities said 4.7 million users lost power early on Monday. Around midday, service had been restored to almost 2.6 million of them.

(Graphic: Texas power prices surge after cold snap forces grid operator to impose rolling blackouts - https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/jbyvrdkrbve/TexasPowerPrice.png)

President Joe Biden declared an emergency on Monday, unlocking federal assistance to Texas, where temperatures ranged from 28 to minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 to minus 22 Celsius).

"The Texas power grid has not been compromised. The ability of some companies that generate the power has been frozen," Governor Greg Abbott wrote on Twitter. "They are working to get generation back on line."

Abbott also deployed the National Guard statewide to assist in the restoration of electricity.

Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport said it would remain closed until at least 1 p.m. CST (1900 GMT) on Tuesday, while the city's Hobby Airport ceased operations until at least noon on Tuesday due to the inclement weather.

The freeze also took a toll on the state's energy industry, by far the country's largest crude producer, shutting oil refineries and forcing restrictions from natural gas pipeline operators.

Apart from Texas, much of the United States was in the grip of bone-chilling weather over the three-day Presidents Day holiday weekend.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said an Arctic air mass had spread southward, well beyond areas accustomed to freezing weather, with winter storm warnings posted for most of the Gulf Coast region, Oklahoma and Missouri.

(Graphic: Texas gripped by severe cold snap, arctic temperatures seen stretching for 5 days more - https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/yxmpjxrlzpr/texasTempsandForecast.png)

In Louisiana, where freezing temperatures also prompted power outages and road closures, some parishes imposed curfews to keep residents off the road. Another 110,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday night.

RECORD DEMAND

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) sought to cut power use in response to a winter record of 69,150 megawatts on Sunday evening, more than 3,200 MW higher than the previous winter peak in January 2018.

About 10,500 MW of customer load was shed at the highest point, enough power to serve approximately 2 million homes, it said, adding that extreme weather caused many generating units across fuel types to trip offline and become unavailable.

"Controlled outages will continue through today and into early tomorrow, possibly all of tomorrow," Dan Woodfin, director of systems operations at ERCOT, told a briefing.

The storms knocked out nearly half the state's wind power generation capacity on Sunday. Wind generation ranks as the second-largest source of electricity in Texas, accounting for 23% of state power supplies, ERCOT estimates.

Of the 25,000-plus MW of wind power capacity normally available in Texas, 12,000 MW were out of service on Sunday morning, an ERCOT spokeswoman said.

An emergency notice issued by the regulator urged customers to limit power usage and prevent an uncontrolled system-wide outage.

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

Due to the extreme cold across the region where it operates, Arkansas-based Southwest Power Pool (NASDAQ:POOL) said it had directed member utilities to implement rolling blackouts.

"In our history as a grid operator, this is an unprecedented event and it marks the first time SPP has ever had to call for controlled interruptions of service," Executive Vice President Lanny Nickell said in a statement.

The NWS said the Arctic blast will not subside until later this week. There is another storm on the way on Wednesday, expected to bring more snow, ice and sleet from the Texas panhandle through Kentucky and up through Washington D.C. to New York City, New Jersey and Boston.

"It's not really going to warm up until at least Friday," said David Roth, of the NWS Weather Prediction Center. "We're not getting a break."

Cold snap leaves one dead, over 4 million without power in Texas
 

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Comments (18)
Raymond Huggard
Raymond Huggard Feb 16, 2021 8:33AM ET
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Global cooling!! We need to generate more pollution to correct this. Al Gore, please fly your private jet more often.
Tenemos Avoir
Tenemos Avoir Feb 16, 2021 7:29AM ET
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Let’s call AOC and ask her advice unless she’s still busy with Nancy’s hate fest.
Dan Diaz
Dan Diaz Feb 15, 2021 9:54PM ET
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Cold snap? I thought we were all gonna perish from GLOBAL WARMING. Fake Gore. Lockbox.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 15, 2021 7:36PM ET
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Texas: Now imagine a whole planet (Earth) where there is no electricity, oil, LNG, or hope. Tic-toc.
Steve Lora
Steve Lora Feb 15, 2021 6:37PM ET
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Wind Turbines are freezing up.
Steven Walters
Wolverex Feb 15, 2021 6:06PM ET
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Oh but but “climate change” initiatives are more effiecient ... says the frozen wind turbine owners. :/
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 15, 2021 4:42PM ET
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The end result of "Global Warming" ignored will be Global freezing. Do the math.Tic-toc.
Kenneth nelson
grasshopper Feb 15, 2021 2:36PM ET
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So much for Green Energy ⚡
Richie Berg
Richie Berg Feb 15, 2021 2:29PM ET
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Who would think that wind mills would freeze and solar panels would be covered in snow?
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Feb 15, 2021 2:29PM ET
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I'm glad You noticed.
GJ DJT
GJDJT Feb 15, 2021 2:29PM ET
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in texas
AmericaIsKing oftheGalaxy
AmericaIsKing oftheGalaxy Feb 15, 2021 2:24PM ET
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Every year texas is hit with a tornado, flood, and now snow storms.
Steven Zagreat
Steven Zagreat Feb 15, 2021 2:06PM ET
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The storms knocked out nearly half the Texas wind power generation capacity on Sunday. Wind generation ranks as the second-largest source of electricity in Texas, accounting for 23% of state power supplies, ERCOT estimates.>> so much for reliable green energy....
Darryl Allen
Darryl Allen Feb 15, 2021 1:52PM ET
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This is why we needed the Keystone Pipeline.
Tony Huynh
Tony Huynh Feb 15, 2021 1:52PM ET
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yeah more climate change will fix this climate change
Richie Berg
Richie Berg Feb 15, 2021 1:52PM ET
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Tony Huynh  Climate change is freezing Texas, LOL
Pin ga
Pin ga Feb 15, 2021 1:52PM ET
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Richie Berg Global warming doesn't mean it only gets warmer lol please research climate change
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Feb 15, 2021 1:49PM ET
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The Sun is in a solar minimum cycle for the next few years
Red Riley
Red Riley Feb 15, 2021 1:39PM ET
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surely to be the hottest February on record
Casino Crypt
CasinoCrypt Feb 15, 2021 1:14PM ET
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Shows how shallow the reporting is - rare ? . It used to be common to get deep freezes 20s ,40s ,60s etc  lasting for weeks in winter. We are seeing these deeper temps  now only spiking low for a few weeks  every few years now. Texas in the 1940s had an average 36 days when it dropped to 0F or lower. In the 2010 it was 24 average days. Now in 2021 its 20 days. So yes the climate crisis is accelerating.
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Feb 15, 2021 1:09PM ET
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Biden will.
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Feb 15, 2021 1:08PM ET
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Kaveh. you are correct that's the problem people don't understand but he's going to shut down every coal plant in the country and shutter every old gas plant as well this is just the start. until you get enough solar and battery storage this is going to be the game
Richie Berg
Richie Berg Feb 15, 2021 1:08PM ET
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"World’s ‘solar and wind capital’ [Germany] freezing due to snow ‘blanketing millions’ of solar panels" without proper engineering it appears that green energy is having problems in Germany right now.
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Feb 15, 2021 10:39AM ET
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Global warming is fine but dont make us pay double and a fee for ‘climate change’
 
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