HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Millions of Texans and thousands of you were without power this week as we experienced historic weather.
Early Monday morning, utility companies were told by the Electric Reliability Council Of Texas (ERCOT) to start rolling blackouts to reduce demand on the power grid. However, for most people, there was no rolling.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the Rio Grande Valley had their power turned off, and watched as it remained off, for days during some of the coldest nights in decades.
KVEO interviewed Eladio Jaimez, a spokesperson from AEP Texas to find out why that happened.
“Unfortunately, because the grid was under so much strain for lack of electricity, we had to continue shedding load and there was never enough energy on the grid for us to rotate those outages.”
But how do they decide who loses power and who gets to keep it?
According to Jaimez, “it’s an automated system” that takes the number of megawatts that ERCOT needs to be removed from the system and “picks the circuit breakers that are going to meet that need.”
Jaimez did not say what the system used to determine which circuit breakers would get selected, but he said that certain locations such as “critical care services like hospitals, nursing homes, water treatment plants” have priority over residential homes and other businesses.
In a web conference on Thursday, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness explained on just how great the demand was.
“If we hadn’t taken action, it wouldn’t have been that we waited a few days and saw what happened,” said Magness. “It was seconds and minutes, given the amount of generation that was coming off the system at the same time the demand was still going up significantly.”
The number of power plants generating electricity rose significantly overnight Wednesday, and millions had power and heat for the first time in days.
“So, as of this press conference right now, there are no outages of power across the state of Texas because of lack of generation, or lack of the ability to generate power,” said Governor Greg Abbott in his opening remarks of a press conference Thursday.
However, we’re not out of the woods yet. Much of the state remains covered in ice and snow, and below-freezing temperatures are expected to hit most of Texas Thursday night into Friday.
This means ERCOT may need to call for a second round of blackouts.
“At the moment, they’re keeping an eye on it, and we’re all keeping an eye on the weather,” said Jaimez.
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