Texas’ electric company ERCOT shut off power to prevent catastrophic failure

“We lost power on Wednesday at 9 am, and it was restored on Friday. No one knew about the severity of the storm. Monday and Tuesday we saw freezing rain and snow, the temperatures were negative 12 degrees Celsius,” said Auzana Kasnavia
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Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)  implemented blackouts to avoid a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months, Texas Tribune reported, citing the company officials.

Millions of Texans were left without power or portable water for days after a historic winter storm brought snow and negative temperatures. According to ERCOT, if the grid had gone totally offline, the physical damage to power infrastructure from overwhelming the grid could have taken months to repair. 

“As chaotic as it was, the whole grid could have been in blackout,” said Bernadette Johnson, senior vice president of power and renewables at Enverus, an oil and gas software and information company headquartered in Austin. 

Auzana Kasnavia, a Canadian woman living in Austin, Texas, told INN24 that there was no warning of the storm coming. Texas gets frequent hurricanes in the summer so it was a surprise to her when the storm hit without any warnings from the local government. 

“We lost power on Wednesday at 9 am, and it was restored on Friday. No one knew about the severity of the storm. Monday and Tuesday we saw freezing rain and snow, the temperatures were negative 12 degrees Celsius,” said Kasnavia. 

Auzana Kasnavia shows a photo of the same location in Austin, Texas, days apart

The government issued a “winter storm warning”; however, that was not enough to prepare Texans for what was about to come. 

“I heard it from my boss. I guess some people knew about it because they had friends who worked for ERCOT. So they warned everyone. My husband and I went a day without food and on Wednesday they managed to open a grocery store and we waited for three hours to get a couple of things that were left,” said Kasnavia. 

The food line up outside of a grocery store

The drastic fluctuation in weather felt like an apocalypse to Kasnavia. 

“It is sunny today, 20 degrees Celsius. Feels like last week did not happen,” said Kasnavia.  

In a news release posted on its website on February 11, ERCOT said it was preparing its generators to take necessary steps to prepare its facilities for the expected cold weather. 

“This statewide weather system is expected to bring Texas the coldest weather we have experienced in decades,” ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness had said in the statement. 

The company used their Twitter account to update Texans on their progress throughout the outages. On February 19, the company tweeted that the power was restored and there was no longer a need for power conservation.  

When INN24 news asked Kasnavia if she had received any alerts on her phone that would warn her about the power outage, she said she did not get any alerts or warnings from the government. Kasnavia’s power has been restored and she is focusing on making sure she is prepared for the next time. 

Wiki Production Code: A0650

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