ONCOR Says Power Outages “Significantly Extended”

ERCOT winter record

Rolling Outages Create Havoc

A little after 1am this morning ERCOT notified Texans the state is at Level 3 and rolling power outages were happening throughout the state. According to them outages would last 30-45 minutes, unfortunately for some the power went off and has not returned.

“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) entered emergency conditions and initiated rotating outages at 1:25 a.m. today.

About 10,500 MW of customer load was shed at the highest point. This is enough power to serve approximately two million homes.

Extreme weather conditions caused many generating units – across fuel types – to trip offline and become unavailable.

There is now over 30,000 MW of generation forced off the system.

“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness.

Rotating outages will likely last throughout the morning and could be initiated until this weather emergency ends.”

Earlier in the evening, on Facebook ERCOT shared, “ERCOT set a new winter peak demand record this evening, reaching 69,150 MW between 6 and 7 p.m. This is more than 3,200 MW higher than the previous winter peak set back in January 2018.”

ONCOR Update More Questions Than Answers

Across our coverage area and the entire state of Texas, cold and frustrated residents are trying to get an ETA or any type of update from ONCOR on when they can expect power to return. Many have reported their indoor temps falling to the 40s, some are unable to run oxygen machines and other medical equipment.

ONCOR says:

EMERGENCY UPDATE: Due to the severity of the electric generation shortfall, our expected outage length of 15 to 45 minutes has been significantly extended. Outages due to this electric emergency could last for hours and we ask you to be prepared. In addition, we are responding to separate outages caused by the record-breaking winter storm that continues to impact our entire service territory. We are doing everything possible to respond to each of these power emergency events. We remain in close coordination with Electric Reliability Council of Texas and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we do all we can to protect the integrity of the Texas grid.

Our phone lines and reporting systems are experiencing a record influx of inquiries. This overload may prevent you from getting into contact with one of our agents. At this time, outages are continuing across the territory at the direction of ERCOT.

While we are likely aware of your outage, restoration times are not yet known and outages could last for hours. Follow these tips for staying warm when power is out. If you are experiencing a life threatening or emergency event, please call 911.

Is It An Outage Or A Rolling Blackout?

HILCO Electric Cooperative posted on Facebook, “What’s the Difference: Some members are asking how they can tell the difference between a rolling blackout versus an outage, and unfortunately, there is no perfect answer. With most rolling blackouts, your power “should” restore every 30 to 45 minutes, but that is not guaranteed. Due to the extreme cold, thermostats are calling for heat instantly when power is restored. This causes an additional burden on the systems due to an immediate surge of load, which causes upstream breakers to operate to protect the system. At this time, the best thing that can be done to help the electric grid during these excessive peaks is to turn off or unplug as many items that cause this load such as lights, appliances, etc.”

Without Power Temps Are Falling Fast

One of the biggest concerns for many without power-lack of heat. Many are reporting their heaters were struggling to keep the house warm with the power on, now with power outages for some at 8 hours plus, and cold temps projected to last through at least Friday, the indoor temps won’t be able to recover.

Angry and frustrated customers are questioning the “rolling outages”. Some customers have been without power for hours while others have not lost power at all. Amber West commented, “Amber West 8 hours of no power here in Arlington. I understand rolling outages but this has crossed into dangerous and deadly.” Another commented, “How are we supposed to know if we are part of a scheduled rolling blackout and not damaged. There is no information online. We have been without power since 3am. It is now 11:45am. There’s no way to contact through phone, text, or online. This is unacceptable. We can not contact you to understand the situation”

In Arlington, the Chief of Police says he’s been without power since 2 am, but urges residents not to call 911 unless its a true emergency.

If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic or snowed in as some are, maybe a nearby hotel would be an option. However, cities and law enforcement are reporting icy/slick road conditions. Also, power outages and have traffic lights dark, making driving even more hazardous. Plus, leaving your cold home for a warm hotel room doesn’t solve the issue of frozen pipes. And the really bad news, with more winter weather and frigid temperatures forecast, ONCOR says the outages could last for days.

Check the ONCOR outage map for local outages https://stormcenter.oncor.com/.

If you need to report an outage, contact Oncor at 888-313-4747. Or if you are registered in My Oncor Alerts, text OUT to 66267.