Texas ERCOT CEO Gave No Timeline on When Power Would Be Restored

Power lines are shown Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Houston. More than 4 million people in Texas still had no power a full day after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power …
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The CEO of the agency that operates Texas’s power grid gave no timeline on when power would be restored to the more than 3 million Texans experiencing blackouts as icy conditions cripple the region.

ERCOT, the agency in charge of Texas’s power grid, is trying to avoid a total blackout in the region by telling utility companies, such as Oncor Electric Delivery, to turn off some customers’ power.

“We needed to step in and make sure that we were not going to end up with Texas in a blackout, which could keep folks without power — not just some people without power but everyone in our region without power — for much, much longer than we believe this event is going to last, as long and as difficult as this event is right now,” ERCOT CEO Bill Magness told the Dallas Morning News.

But when asked for a timeline on when power could return, Magness said an uncontrolled blackout could leave customers without power indefinitely or for about a month.

Gov. Greg Abbott called on Texas legislators to investigate ERCOT and how it had handled the storm.

“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” he said.

When state legislators pushed ERCOT officials with a specific estimate for when the outages might end, officials simply demurred without giving specific estimates.

“After being pushed by lawmakers, ERCOT would say only that it could be ‘days’ before power is restored for all customers,” State Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas) posted on Twitter. “In an email to members, ERCOT said, ‘Even if there is good progress, returning to normal conditions is going to take additional time.’ ”

State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) tweeted that ERCOT told lawmakers it knew last week that controlled outages would be necessary, but it did not make that knowledge public until Sunday.

“They apologize for not letting the public know that this was what was going to happen,” Wu tweeted.


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