SAN ANTONIO – Almost a year later a catastrophic winter storm Governor Greg Abbott of Texas on Thursday reassured the state’s 29 million residents that the power grid is expected to hold up despite freezing temperatures across a large swath of the state.
“We’re dealing with one of the most significant freezing events we’ve had in the state of Texas in at least a couple of decades,” Abbott said. However, he added, “the grid is doing very well. There is a lot of energy available at this time, as well as a lot of strength to be expected for the rest of today and tomorrow. “
But the storm wasn’t without its impact: Nearly 70,000 homes and businesses in Texas were without power as of Thursday morning, according to PowerOutage.us, a website that monitors power outages. There were no reports of widespread accidents or blocked roads.
Texas is no stranger to summer weather phenomena like heat waves and hurricanes. But officials were unprepared last February when an eight-day winter storm pushed the state into dark and cold.
Mr Abbott said Thursday’s outage was due to high winds affecting power lines or to icy conditions that toppled trees or branches.
“Local power providers are providing additional resources to restore those power lines,” he said at a news conference from Austin on Thursday morning.
During last year’s hurricane, which caused an estimated $130 billion in damage, all of the state’s 254 counties declared disaster after the power grid crashed and more than 4.5 million customers lost power and heat. More than 240 people died from hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, car accidents, drowning and house fires.
This week, freezing temperatures are mainly forecast to affect the Dallas metropolitan area and other cities in the northern part of the state, including Lubbock, and are expected to last only through Saturday. . Meteorologists say the storm will bring hail, freezing rain, ice and severe winds.
Along with state officials, Mr Abbott said the state had been preparing since last winter to prevent a repeat of catastrophic power outages. He also signed an emergency declaration offering aid to at least 17 counties affected by the freezing weather this week, and said the number could rise.
Last year’s storm became a political responsibility for Mr. Abbott, who was looking for a different term. His Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, and other critics say many of the problems that have pushed the Texas power grid to the brink of total collapse remain unresolved.
For example, companies operating natural gas systems that froze in February, cutting off supplies to power plants, are still not required to better prepare their equipment for times of cold. in poorly insulated houses. Incentives in the Texas market – which have prioritized cheap electricity over reliability – are still in effect, critics say.
But Mr Abbott insisted that changes had been made, including the freezing of generators. He said that 99% passed the test. The state has also stocked up on an excess supply of energy and natural gas for use when needed.
Lucinda Holt contributed reporting from Lubbock, Texas.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/03/us/texas-power-grid-winter-storm.html Texas officials promise grid will keep winter storms at bay