A worker repairs a power line in Austin, Texas, United States on Wednesday February 18, 2021.
Thomas Ryan Allison | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Texas Electric Reliability Council, known as ERCOT, which controls most of the state’s power supply, announced that it returned to normal conditions on Friday as power was restored for millions of customers who were left in the dark were left.
However, the effects of the deadly storm are still being felt across Texas.
More than 160,000 customers in the state had no power as of 4 p.m. ET, according to the latest data from PowerOutage.us. Utilities say that as electricity demands increase, limited blackouts are still possible.
At one point on Tuesday, more than 4 million customers were without power.
While the heat may come back, once the water pressure drops, portions of the state’s water supply may be at risk, which can lead to possible contamination.
Alison Silverstein, an independent energy advisor and former strategic advisor to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said 20 million or more Texans could be forced to boil water.
ERCOT officials said Thursday during a virtual press conference that the network was “seconds and minutes” away from a far worse disaster given the speed at which the generation was leaving the system. KXAN in Austin reported the comments first. According to Silverstein, if ERCOT had not switched off the electricity, the entire network would have failed.
The wintry conditions affected electricity generation from natural gas, coal, renewables, and other sources, just as consumers turned up their thermostats in freezing temperatures. The network could not keep up with the dynamics of supply and demand.
Natural gas production across Texas decreased by about 30%, making it difficult for energy companies to find the gas they needed to run their power plants. It is estimated that up to 4 million barrels of crude oil were taken offline every day.
Energy prices initially rebounded on the production shutdown, but took a breather on Thursday as West Texas Intermediate and Natural Gas crude oil futures both fell.
WTI’s declines continued on Friday, with contract trading trading below $ 60 a barrel. Earlier this week, WTI broke $ 60 for the first time since January 2020.
The Henry Hub natural gas futures fell slightly on Friday to $ 3.071 per million British thermal units. During the week, natural gas gained more than 5%.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called for an investigation from ERCOT.
“The Texas Electric Reliability Council has been far from reliable for the past 48 hours,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “Far too many Texans have no electricity or heat for their homes because our state is exposed to freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable.”
Looking ahead, experts say wintering mandate devices could be one of the measures being taken to avert future disasters.
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