An unforgettable winter storm and frigid temperatures that have gripped at least half the United States has left more than 2.5 million Texans without power.
Snow and record cold continued Wednesday in the southwestern state where temperatures are predicted to remain at or below freezing. The unusual winter weather created a huge demand for electricity that caused the state’s independently-run power system to fail, exposing issues with its structure.
In an interview, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo — whose county includes the city of Houston — said some of the outages are caused directly by the weather, and many of those problems are being repaired.
But she said much of what the state is dealing with is a “man-made disaster” stemming from how the electricity grid is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). She said residents statewide deserve answers.
ERCOT President Bill Magness said the system tried to prepare for the storm, but as conditions worsened Monday into Tuesday, several power plants went offline. Some politicians in the oil- and natural-gas-producing state blamed the problems on green energy sources, saying iced wind turbines were the cause.
Magness said some turbines were frozen, but he said twice as much power was wiped out at natural gas and coal plants. He said forcing controlled outages was the only way to avert an even more dire blackout in Texas.
As of Wednesday, Magness said ERCOT could not offer a firm timetable for when power might be fully restored. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called for an investigation of the agency.
Cold and wintry weather is forecast to continue for at least the next few days in Texas and much of the eastern half of the United States.