More than 2.5 million Texas residents were left without electricity due to an unprecedented snow storm that brought a cold front to at least half of the United States.
Snow continued on Wednesday in Texas and cold weather set in below zero Celsius, which is a record low temperature for this, one of the southernmost states. Extreme weather conditions contributed to a huge increase in electricity consumption, which led to the failure of the state’s autonomous power system and exposed serious structural problems.
Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge, of which Houston is a member, said some of the blackouts were directly caused by weather conditions, and many of those problems have been resolved. However, according to her, the situation faced by Texas is largely a man-made disaster that has occurred due to the nature of the local power system, managed by the Texas Electricity Reliability Board (ERCOT). The judge said the state’s residents deserve honest answers to questions raised by the massive blackouts.
ERCOT President Bill Magness said that they tried to prepare the system for the storm, however, due to a sharp deterioration in the weather, several power plants went out of operation from Monday to Tuesday. A number of politicians in the oil and natural gas producing state blamed clean energy sources for the problems, claiming icing wind turbines were the cause of the outages.
Magness confirmed that some of the wind turbines were indeed frozen, however, he said, the coal and gas power plants turned off twice as much energy. Forced power outages are the only way to prevent even more serious power problems across the state, he said.
Magness said that, as of Wednesday, ERCOT is not yet able to provide an exact timetable for the full restoration of the electricity supply. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called on the agency to investigate. Weather forecasters predict extreme cold weather will continue for at least the next few days in Texas and the eastern United States.