Texas energy grid finds new breath, but with challenges ahead
TEXAS (US) – A “fragile” energy grid has completely returned to life, and frigid Texans who have spent five days dealing with blackouts due to a historic winter storm, heaved a sigh of relief. However, challenges remain in finding drinking water and tackling downed power lines loomed on Friday.
All power plants in the state started to function again, however, about 280,000 homes were still without power on early Friday. Around 13 million people, which made up to half of all Texans, saw the disruptions of water services.
Linesman were scrambling to bring back power to homes, while the state’s powerful oil and gas sector were trying to find ways to renew production.
Hospitals in some hard-hit areas fell short of water and transferred patients elsewhere. Millions of people were ordered to boil water so that it becomes safe for drinking.
Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in Harris County, which encompasses Houston, said she was satisfied with the way things were progressing in the past 24 hours, but cautioned residents to be mentally prepared for more hardship.
“The grid is still fragile,” she said, noting that cold weather would remain in the area for a few days, which would “put pressure on these power plants that have just come back on.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott urged lawmakers to pass legislation making sure that the energy grid was ready for cold weather in the future.
“What happened this week to our fellow Texans is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again,” Abbott told an afternoon news conference.
The governor lashed out at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a cooperative, which has the authority for 90% of the state’s electricity. He said he had told officials ahead of the storm that the grid was prepared for the cold weather.
Millions had their water supplies cut off, along with a lack of power, which further strained hospitals’ ability to treat patients amid a pandemic. It also isolated vulnerable communities, with frozen roads still impassable in parts of the state.
Nearly two dozen deaths have been found to have happened due to the cold snap. Officials say they suspect many more people have lost lives, however, their bodies have not yet been discovered.