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Texas Officials Say Power Grid Ready as Winter Storm Hits


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These translations are done via Google Translate
(Bloomberg) Texas officials say they’re confident the state’s power grid can avoid a repeat of last year’s catastrophic blackouts as a major storm sweeps through the region, though the icy blast could still bring local outages.

An ice storm that hit the state on Wednesday evening is expected to bring sleet, snow and freezing rain during the next few days. The state’s grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and other energy officials are reassuring Texans that there’s more than enough capacity to keep power flowing even if demand for electricity and natural gas soars to record levels.

“The grid is ready, and the lights will stay on for Texans,” Peter Lake, chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said in a Wednesday afternoon news release. Lake said in a briefing earlier in the day that “we don’t anticipate any rolling blackouts at all.”

The stakes are high in Texas, where last year’s winter storm led to blackouts and deaths of more than 200 people. This storm will test whether Governor Greg Abbott and Republican lawmakers have done enough to bolster the power network, including new rules requiring the grid operator to increase reserve capacity and make it easier for industrial users to get paid to reduce consumption.

Bracing for Deep Freeze

While rolling blackouts may not be needed to temper increased demand that’s expected to peak Friday morning, that doesn’t mean some Texans won’t lose power with the storm coating much of the state in a blanket of ice.

About 52,000 homes and businesses across the state were without power in the early hours of Thursday, according to Poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outages.

“With frozen precipitation there is always a chance for local outages caused by things like ice on wires or fallen tree limbs,” Ercot Interim Chief Executive Officer Brad Jones said Wednesday in a statement.

The grid operator predicts demand will peak at almost 72 gigawatts on Friday morning — a level never seen outside of summer. A year ago, demand was also poised to hit an all-time high before widespread outages during a winter storm darkened the state for days. A gigawatt is enough to power about 200,000 Texas homes.

GLJ
NWS San Angelo

GLJ

@NWSSanAngelo

To give you an idea of just how wide of an impact this winter storm will have… you can drive in a (relatively) straight line from Crockett County, TX to Aroostook County, ME (on the border of Maine and New Brunswick) and never be out of a Winter Storm Warning! ????️❄️ #txwx #sjtwx

Sent via TweetDeck.

View original tweet.

Temperatures in the Dallas area, where a winter storm warning is in place, are forecast to reach a high of 24-degrees Fahrenheit (-4.4 Celsius) on Thursday and drop into the teens during the next few nights. Midland, the business heart of the oil- and gas-rich Permian Basin, could fall to 11 degrees on Thursday night, while Houston will drop to 28 degrees. The Texas Department of Transportation is reporting ice and snow on the roads throughout much of the northwest part of the state.

The deep freeze is part of a large winter storm that’s cutting across the central, eastern and southern U.S. Heavy snow is expected from the southern Rockies to northern New England, while heavy ice accretion is likely from Texas to Pennsylvania, according to the National Weather Service.

Winter storm warnings have also been issued for parts of southwest Ontario, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. Toronto, the most populous Canadian city, is also under a weather advisory, with as much as 15 centimeters of snow expected by Thursday morning.

(Updates with details of power outages in 6th paragraph, latest forecasts in ninth.)

–With assistance from Gerson Freitas Jr., Joe Carroll, Shelly Hagan, Dave Merrill, David Stringer and Stephen Stapczynski.



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