“Anyone who has had little or no power in the last 24 hours should expect the same for at least the next 48 hours,” according to a statement from Collin County Judge Chris Hill. “Even those who have been blessed to have power over the last 24 hours should be prepared in case their power also goes out.”
Hill said he was among those participating in a meeting with the National Weather Service, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Oncor Electric Delivery about the ongoing winter weather and mass power outages.
A winter storm warning is in effect for the North Texas region from 6 p.m. Feb. 16 through 6 a.m. Feb. 18, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. The forecast calls for heavy mixed precipitation and an estimated 2-6 inches of snow with the heaviest amounts northeast of Dallas-Fort Worth area. Ice accumulations of 0.10 to 0.25 inches are also possible, according to the forecast. Temperatures will also remain below freezing through at least Feb. 18, the forecast stated.
Officials have said power outages are due to issues with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which “manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texas customers,” according to its website.
“ERCOT generators have not been able to stay online at full capacity, losing 19,000 MWatts [megawatts] of supply,” according to a Facebook post from Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney. “A variety of reasons were given, none of which were acceptable, and they completely let the state down.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called for an investigation into ERCOT over the power outages. As of 5:48 p.m. Feb. 16, more than 3.1 million customers in Texas were experiencing outages, according to a website tracking outages.
According to a Feb. 16 statement from CoServ, which provides electricity to portions of Denton and Collin counties, among other areas, “The purpose of rotating outages is to avoid a total blackout of the ERCOT grid. If the grid was completely shut down, the process to restart the grid could take days. This is why ERCOT does all it can to avoid getting to that point. So far, rotating outages have reduced enough load on the ERCOT grid to avoid more drastic measures.”
ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said in a Feb. 14 statement that its system is experiencing "record-breaking electric demand due to extreme cold temperatures."
"At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal generation outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited natural gas supplies available to generating units," he stated.
The statement asked people to do what they can to conserve energy, including turning off non-essential appliances and lights, avoiding use of large appliances such as washing machines and ovens and turning thermostats to 68 degrees.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins posted an update Feb. 16 on Twitter, asking that nonessential businesses close to help conserve energy.
Update on winter weather event and COVID-19 response: https://t.co/zuEABMfy8W
— Clay Jenkins (@JudgeClayJ) February 16, 2021
Warming centers are set up at various locations throughout the state for those without heat or those needing emergency shelter. For further assistance and information, residents can call 2-1-1.
Some areas, including north Fort Worth, Southlake and smaller Collin County communities, have also been asked to boil water over safety concerns.
The city of Keller receives its water from the city of Fort Worth, and while its residents do not have to boil water, they are being asked to conserve it.
“Please prioritize it for drinking water and essential needs only; hold off on cleaning dishes, running laundry, and avoid showers/baths if you can,” according to a statement from Keller Mayor Armin Mizani. “As Fort Worth works to make adjustments to their system, Keller is not receiving new water from Fort Worth. This means we are relying on what is already in the city’s water tanks. At this point, every bit counts.”
Most school districts have canceled classes for at least another day or two. People should check with their individual school districts for details.
Richardson ISD, for example, has canceled classes for the rest of the week “for the safety and well-being of all students and staff.”
“Even when greater accessibility to RISD campuses and buildings is restored, it is estimated that it will take at least one day to ensure buildings are prepared to welcome students back,” according to a statement from the district.
Cheney cautioned residents to take precautions to stay safe.
“While there is a chance it [power] is restored sooner, we urge you to be prepared for the worst. Please take precautions to keep your family warm and safe, especially those that have been without power and likely will continue to be so for the next few days.”
Hill’s message asked people to help each other out during this crisis.
“Take time to check on each other, especially the elderly and those who live alone,” he said. “It's important that we pull together as a community and care for one another during this difficult week.”