Freezing Weather Nearly Sends Texas Into Rolling Blackouts

The freezing temperatures overnight put a strain on the Texas power grid. State officials say they were very close to sending Texas into power outages.

Between midnight and eight this morning, the Texas grid lost 3700 megawatts of generation, prompting ERCOT to put the state on a level 2 energy emergency alert.

Dan Woodfin is ERCOT's director of system operations. He says if they had lost another power plant, it would have prompted rotating outages.

"The deployment of additional resources in the first two stages of the energy emergency alert were sufficient to bring sufficient resources online so that no rotating outages were needed."

Two large power generators in North Central Texas went down due to complications from the freezing weather.

ERCOT imported 800 megawatts of electricity from the Eastern U.S. power grid and another 180 megawatts from Mexico.

Woodfin says the two power plants that failed are now back online and they expect to be able to meet demands.

"Demand typically in the winter parts of the year will peak in the morning and then there'll be another peak in the evening. And so if everything stays online, we should be okay for this afternoon's peak. But it's always possible that additional generation could trip offline for some reason. And then we'll also have another peak in the morning."

The last time Texas saw rolling outages was in February 2011, when a hard freeze caused a spike in demand, while also forcing outages at nearly two dozen power plants.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...