Power outages set to continue— ERCOT says without them a blackout could last for months

1 year 4 months 1 week ago Wednesday, February 17 2021 Feb 17, 2021 February 17, 2021 10:55 PM February 17, 2021 in News - Local
By: Christian Von Preysing

Thousands of people in the Valley are facing another cold night without power. 

On Wednesday, the AEP Texas Outage Map reported more than 200,000 customer outages. 

In a news release, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a nonprofit corporation that represents 90% of the states electric load, said it continues to make progress on restoring power to the electric system.

ERCOT CEO Bill Magness defended the choice made at the start of the week to shut off power for some. 

READ ALSO: AET Texas restoring power and increasing outage rotation as generation increases

Magness said the decision, "made in the middle of the night, 1 a.m. on Monday to have the outages imposed was a wise decision by the operators." 

He said if they had waited and not proceeded with the scheduled outages, Texas could have drifted towards a longer blackout. 

"I know that what we're seeing feels like a blackout," Magness said. "But the blackout that could occur if you don't keep the supply and demand in balance could last months."

As of Wednesday, Texas is facing a 46,000 Megawatt deficit or 4.5 million homes without power. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than a quarter of the state. 

READ ALSO: ERCOT provides update on winter weather even

ERCOT Senior Director Dan Woodfin said some facilities affected were solar sites, wind turbines, nuclear facilities and natural gas plants.

"You've got freeze off on the wellheads, they're cold," Woodfin said. "And they're not getting gas out of the ground and into the pipelines."

ERCOT says plants were advised to 'winterize' or adapt to meet the demand of winter storms in 2011 and 2018. They said that helped develop a set of 'Best Practices'— but that advice was optional. 

Texas' major losses this week happened Sunday night after 11 p.m., when a wave of operators went offline at the same time. 

"We started seeing, kind of a massive amount of these generators tripping offline," Woodfin said. "There was about -- a little over 10,000 megawatts that tripped off in a very short period of time that caused this to be a more severe event than what we were expecting."

ERCOT said the best case scenario now is to get down to scheduled outages lasting for no longer than 30 minutes to an hour at a time. ERCOT says they still do not expect that to happen Wednesday night or or Thursday. 

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