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Power restored to most Texans as rolling outages end, but thousands in North Texas are still without – The Dallas Morning News

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https://www.dallasnews.com/news/weather/2021/02/18/oncor-ends-controlled-outages-thousands-of-north-texans-still-without-power-due-to-equipment-damage/

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This is a developing story and will be updated regularly.

Oncor Electric Delivery said early Thursday that it was able to end controlled power outages previously necessary through this week’s extreme winter weather, though thousands of North Texas homes were still without power due to damaged equipment.

As of 1:15 p.m., 181,000 of its customers statewide were still without power because of damage to equipment from both of this week’s winter storms. The company said a lot of the equipment damage couldn’t be identified until power went back online.

“Our personnel will continue working 24/7 to restore power to remaining customers,” Oncor said in a Tweet. “We recognize the hardships this power emergency has caused our customers & communities. We appreciate their patience as we [await] the return of electric generation & protected the TX electric grid.”

As of 1:15 p.m., Oncor reported more than 5,900 outages statewide. More than 33,000 of its affected customers were in Dallas County, and more than 36,000 were in Tarrant county.

The outage numbers were continuing to fluctuate Thursday, but the company said it may take some time for its outage map to accurately reflect the true number of outages as equipment comes back online.

Across the state, more than 444,000 homes were without power just after 1:15 p.m., according to Power Outage.us. That’s one of the lowest number of outages seen all week, but still represents a significant amount of Texas homes braving cold weather without electricity.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the agency that oversees the state’s power grid, said that those who still don’t have power likely fall into three categories: people in areas where equipment is damaged, people in areas where power was taken offline and needs to be put back online manually, or people who are customers with large industrial facilities that voluntarily turned off their power to help conserve energy.

ERCOT officials said they hope to not have to call for more outages as fresh snow falls. They said more outages are possible if the demand shoots up as people get their power back in homes and businesses or if the cold knocks off generators again. 

“Right now the generation availability is going up. If demand outstrips supply again like in the evening today or tomorrow morning, we could have to go back to rotating outages because of the power balance problem,” said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT’s senior director of system operations. 

New outages, if they can’t be avoided, should be rotating and not extended like the ones thousands of Texans endured earlier this week, Woodfin said.

”We’re not ready to say we’re finished with this event because weather is driving the event,” said Bill Magness, ERCOT’s president and CEO. “Weather is still driving events on the ground.”

In the wake of the widespread outages, elected and public officials have raised questions and called for investigations into ERCOT’s practices and preparations for the extreme weather events.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said on Thursday that the House Energy and Commerce Committee would “will be taking up some form of investigation” into the fallout from Texas’ historic freeze, calling it “a look into it to see how things could’ve turned out better and will turn out better in the future.”

”Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Texas for what they are suffering in their situation there, in terms of lack of water, lack of energy,” she said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Pelosi noted that she has a daughter who lives in Houston, “so I know firsthand what her concerns are.” But she said her daughter’s “concerns are minor compared to people in need, people truly in need.”

”To lose water and service for my family is one thing,” Pelosi said. “But for people who don’t have so many options, it’s just heartbreaking. I would hope that the public policy of the state would recognize the needs that are there.”

She said Texas lawmakers are asking for immediate federal assistance on a number of fronts, ranging from home repair aid to small business loans to COVID vaccination help.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement Wednesday night that he is planning to launch an investigation into ERCOT and other related entities in response to this week’s outages.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation also confirmed earlier this week that they will be launching an investigation into the massive outages.

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