Energy & Environment

Almost 5 million without power as winter storm stresses grid in Texas, 13 other states

Snow covers Austin, Texas
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The massive winter storm that swept across the nation this week has left 5 million people without power as utilities have been forced to implement rolling power outages, Bloomberg reported.

The Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which manages a 14-state grid from North Dakota to Oklahoma, on Tuesday ordered the second day of rolling blackouts, the news outlet reported.

SPP executive vice president and chief operating officer Lanny Nickell said in a statement that the move was a “last resort” and SPP had never before ordered such interruptions.

“It’s a last resort that we understand puts a burden on our member utilities and the customers they serve but it’s a step we’re consciously taking to prevent circumstances from getting worse, which could result in uncontrolled outages of even greater magnitude,” Nickell said in a statement.

“I’ve been following energy markets and grid issues for a while, and I cannot recall an extreme weather event that impacted such a large swath of the nation in this manner — the situation is critical,” Neil Chatterjee of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told Bloomberg.

Temperatures in the central U.S. are forecasted to rise to 29 degrees Fahrenheit by Wednesday but plunge back into the teens by the next day, according to the National Weather Service.

Texas, where the grid was designed with sweltering summer temperatures in mind, has been particularly hard-hit by the winter weather. The Lone Star State has not had to implement rolling blackouts in a decade, according to Bloomberg.

The energy industry, meanwhile, has seen oil production drop by more than a million barrels daily, and several oil refineries have been forced to temporarily close in the central U.S. Power plants that were forced to stop production Monday, including wind farms, nuclear reactors and gas and coal generators, have a total capacity of 34 gigawatts, according to the news outlet.

Tags Electricity Neil Chatterjee Power grid Southwest Power Pool Texas Weather Winter storm

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