Weather News

Power issues still besiege freezing Dallas and ERCOT can't predict the end

Power issues still besiege freezing Dallas and ERCOT can't predict end

Dallas snow Feb 2021
More snow is still to come. Photo by Yaser Birjas

After 36 hours, Texas' power situation is still an unholy mess due to the record-breaking weather event and ERCOT, the state organization in charge of the power grid, has no estimate on when things will improve.

Thousands of Dallas County residents are currently without power, many for more than six hours, some for more than 24 hours, according to a statement from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

And power companies are saying that emergency operations are likely to continue for at least several days, as another storm crosses Dallas-Fort Worth on February 16.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is continuing to direct utilities such as Oncor to decrease power load via outages. Oncor, which services Dallas-Fort Worth, issued a statement saying it was able to rotate some outages overnight, but "poor grid conditions have prevented it from rotating, or rolling, the entirety of these outages, leading to extended periods without power for many customers."

"At this time, ERCOT is unable to predict when grid conditions will stabilize, and [we] urge all customers to be prepared for extended outages to continue," the statement says.

"We recognize the hardships and extreme frustration customers without power face during these historical low temperatures and are ready to deliver power as soon as electric generators are able to provide it," their statement says. "As soon as enough generation is available, we will return to a regular cadence of rotating outages with the goal of providing any temporary relief that we can for those who have been without power the longest."

Crews continue to restore equipment damaged by the storm and have relocated crews, including contractors from out of state.

In order to preserve the reliability of the grid, ERCOT has said that additional generation will be needed before power can be restored.

A priority is being placed on hospitals and other critical infrastructure, which means that customers near those areas or in limited areas where rolling outages won’t take place in order to maintain grid stability, may not experience outages. Those farther away may be out multiple times or for longer instances.

Judge Jenkins called the situation with ERCOT "very serious and unprecedented," and said that he's working with Oncor to try and cycle in neighborhoods.

"Just had a call with Oncor's CEO and senior leadership," Jenkins said. "The power generation increase Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) forecast for last night didn’t happen. During our call, ERCOT demanded an additional 500 megawatts be pulled from transmission bringing the up to the minute total to 18,500 shed."

Jenkins said that 280,000 customers in Dallas County are still without power.

"Oncor reports they were able to cycle most customers with extended outages on for roughly 30 minutes an average of three times last night but many didn’t get that," Jenkins said. "Transformers are breaking and where that is happening power won’t come on. This adds to the complexity of the problem.

Jenkins is requesting that, due to the lack of success in getting plants online and the severity of this situation, businesses work virtually or close to all but essential maintenance to help conserve energy today.

"We also urge customers to prioritize the safety of themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors. Tips to stay warm during power outages include: closing blinds and curtains and closing room doors to help contain heat, and stuffing towels in the cracks under doors can help keep the warmth in. Many local counties have also opened warming stations or shelters, which can be located online or by calling 211."