Texas hit with massive power outages as winter freeze leaves more than 4 million in the dark

Ex-energy secretary: Texas storm shuttering green energy ‘avoidable tragedy’

Former U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette argues the situation in Texas following a storm shows the importance of having ‘a diverse energy supply.’

More than 4 million Texans are reported to be without power Tuesday as temperatures remain well below freezing across the state, leaving residents scrambling for warmth.

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Over 1 million of those outages were reported in the Houston area, according to PowerOutage.us, a website that tracks disruptions. Elsewhere, more than 300,000 customers are without power in each of the Dallas, San Antonio and Austin areas, it added.

“At this time, [the Electric Reliability Council of Texas] is unable to predict when grid conditions will stabilize,” Oncor, a utility that serves more than 10 million customers, tweeted Tuesday morning. “All customers are urged to be prepared for continued extended outages.”

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With more frigid days looming, frustration is mounting over the outages in Texas, where surging demand and the loss of some power stations in the cold overwhelmed the power grid, forcing blackouts typically only seen in 100-degree Fahrenheit summers.

On Monday, more than 500 people were hunkering down at one shelter in Houston, but Mayor Sylvester Turner said other warming centers had to be shut down because those locations, too, lost power.

The Trinity River is mostly frozen after a snow storm on Monday in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP/Star-Telegram)

The blackouts forced a Texas county to scramble to get more than 8,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine into arms. The Harris County Public Health facility lost power after 1 a.m. on Monday and its backup generator also failed, said Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

Looking for large groups of people in places where they wouldn't have to drive and with appropriate medical personnel on hand, county officials distributed the doses at three hospitals, Rice University and the county jail, according to the Associated Press.

Much of eastern Texas remains under a winter storm warning Tuesday. The National Weather Service is forecasting “snow accumulations of 2 to 6 inches" with the heaviest amounts northeast of Dallas.

“Travel could become dangerous. Additional power outages are expected,” it said in an advisory. “The cold wind chills could result in hypothermia if precautions are not taken.”

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The blast of winter weather that caused the ongoing power outages is also affecting other states in the region.

Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kentucky each have 150,000 or more customers without power as well, according to PowerOutage.us.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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