The outages are no longer the result of planned, rolling blackouts from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state agency tasked with managing electricity flow, but weather-induced conditions and high demand. Wind turbines and a nuclear power plant supplying some of the area’s power were shut down due to the conditions, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
“We will need to have a serious conversation as to why we are where we are today, but where we are today is getting through the next 36 hours ... these are not rolling blackouts; these are power outages at a huge, unprecedented scale,” Turner said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott posted an update on Twitter confirming the issue.
I have gathered information all day from ERCOT & the Public Utilities Comm. & will provide a detailed update shortly.
Many power generation companies facilities froze overnight and shut down their ability to generate power.
They are working to get power back on line.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 15, 2021
Power could remain out through much of the day and into tomorrow, Turner said. Those with power are encouraged to conserve as much as possible to help ease the burden on the electrical grids and return power more quickly. To do so, residents are encouraged to keep household temperatures below 70 and avoid using heavy appliances.
The city is operating multiple warming centers, including one at the George R. Brown Convention center that is reaching capacity serving close to 500 people. Two other warming centers lost power and were relocated, said George Buenik, Houston director of the Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said the department’s call volume is up 50% mostly due to EMS calls.
To prevent fire damage or carbon monoxide poisoning, Peña reminded residents to keep anything heated by gas, propane or charcoal, such as grills, outside of the home. If turning a car on, drivers must keep garage doors open to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning as well, Peña said.
As of 1 p.m. Feb. 15, the city of Houston was not reporting low water pressure or issuing a boil water notice.
“You don’t have to be doing laundry at this point. Conserve water to keep the water pressure up and prevent a boil water advisory,” Peña said.
The Houston Public Works Department posted an update on Twitter explaining the need to conserve water.
Houston’s water system is different than other systems in the we don’t use water towers to provide pressure to the system. We use ground storage tanks & pumps. Dripping the system can stress pumps and cause systemwide pressure issues, &possibly lead to a boil water notice
— Houston Public Works (@HouPublicWorks) February 14, 2021