(Natural News) The power grid in Texas was just “seconds and minutes” away from a disastrous failure that could have resulted in months of total blackout, officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said Thursday, Feb. 18.
ERCOT, which manages 90 percent of the power grid Texas uses, received intense criticism from state officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, for leaving some four million residents without power during a severe winter storm. But ERCOT President Bill Magness insisted that the situation could have been much worse.
With Texas nearing its worst-case scenario, Magness said they had to order transmission companies to quickly reduce power. According to a report from The Texas Tribune, ERCOT had to make the quick decision to employ what was intended to be rolling blackouts given the energy that was dropping off the grid.
“It needed to be addressed immediately,” Magness told the newspaper. He also said Texas would have suffered months-long blackouts had they not enforced the rolling outages. Had they not taken that action, Magness claimed state officials would instead be talking about when the entire power grid would be repaired.
However, Magness conceded that the rolling power outages did not work as planned simply because the power demand was so large. Transmission providers had difficulty rotating power among millions of Texans.
Previously, Magness insisted that the council did not underestimate the gravity of the situation and that it took many steps to prepare beforehand. In a Friday news conference, Magness mentioned that they have legislative and council board meetings set up for next week to address the issues they faced over the past week.
Nonetheless, Abbott is firmly determined to reform the council. At a press conference on Thursday, he blamed the outages squarely on ERCOT. He said they haven’t been reliable for the past 48 hours.
The Republican governor has called to reform the council and declared the issue an “emergency item” for state legislators in the current session. The declaration would allow the Legislature to approve bills on the topic during the first 60 days of the current session, which started on Jan. 12.
Legislators would be reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT to get a clear picture of the cause of the power crisis.
Furthermore, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has opened an inquiry into the outages. The agency said it will investigate along with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), an international regulatory authority based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Millions of Texans left without clean water after storm
A water crisis also gripped Texas as the winter weather sent water service providers scrambling to ration supplies. The record-low temperatures had caused frozen wells, cracked water pipes and burst water infrastructures.
Hospitals in some hard-hit areas even ran out of water and had to transfer patients elsewhere. Texans also had to boil water to make it safe for drinking because water treatment plants were knocked offline.
In Houston, officials set up a mass distribution of bottled water at Delmar Stadium for those in need of potable water. (Related: Clean water graphene breakthrough could allow millions to drink filtered seawater.)
Follow Power.news for updates on the ongoing power crisis in Texas.