Texas network operator to end emergency conditions, millions still under notice to boil water

A worker repairs a power line in Austin, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, February 18, 2021.

Thomas Ryan Allison | Bloomberg | fake images

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, known as ERCOT and which controls most of the state’s power, said it plans to emerge from emergency conditions on Friday as power has been returned to millions of customers who stayed behind. Darkness.

However, the impacts of the deadly storm are still being felt throughout Texas.

ERCOT said that energy conservation “remains critical.” Nearly 200,000 customers in the state are still without power, according to the latest data from PowerOutage.us. Utility officials say limited blackouts are still possible if demand for electricity increases.

At one point on Tuesday, more than four million customers were without power.

While the heat may be returning, parts of the state’s water supply could now be at risk after the water pressure dropped, leading to possible contamination.

Alison Silverstein, an independent energy consultant and former strategic advisor to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said 20 million or more Texans could be forced to boil water.

ERCOT officials said Thursday during a virtual press conference that the network was “seconds and minutes” away from a much worse disaster, given the speed at which generation was exiting the system. KXAN in Austin first reported the comments. If they hadn’t cut the power when they did, the entire grid would have gone down, according to Silverstein.

Winter conditions affected power production from natural gas, coal, renewables and other sources, just as consumers turned on their thermostats amid cold temperatures. The network could not match the dynamics of supply and demand.

Natural gas production in Texas is down about 30%, making it difficult for power companies to find the gas they need to operate their power plants. By some estimates, up to four million barrels per day of crude oil production was disconnected.

Energy prices initially rebounded after production shutdowns but took a breather on Thursday with West Texas Intermediate crude and natural gas futures falling.

The WTI declines continued on Friday with the contract trading below $ 60 a barrel. Earlier in the week, WTI topped $ 60 for the first time since January 2020.

Henry Hub natural gas futures rose 1.95% to trade at $ 3.137 per million British thermal units on Friday. In the week, natural gas has risen more than 7%.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for an investigation into ERCOT.

“The Texas Electrical Reliability Council has been anything but reliable for the past 48 hours,” it said in a statement Tuesday. “Too many Texans are without electricity and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable.”

Looking ahead, experts say that requiring equipment to winterize could be one of the measures taken to prevent future disasters.

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