Texas power crisis: ERCOT says outages could have lasted months if decision not made at storm's start

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Millions of Texans woke up Wednesday to the reality of a third straight day without heating or lights, though, we've learned a good portion of those people had power restored only to lose it.

Leaders of ERCOT, the nonprofit council that oversees the power supply for more than 26 million Texans, faced questions several hours after they instructed local utilities to shed enough power to around 2.8 million households.

While they touted their efforts to quickly restore power to 600,000 customers overnight, ERCOT CEO and President Bill Magness and Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin went on the defensive over the decision to prolong outages as opposed to the rolling blackouts they said were to happen ahead of the historic statewide winter storm earlier this week.

We've also learned the best and worst case scenarios the state faces in power restoration. Here are the key

When will power be restored in Texas?

Cutting straight to chase, ERCOT could not offer an exact timetable for full restoration.

According to Magness, restoration depends on the amount of generation to balance demand, which has been a point repeated over the last few days.

There are challenges, though, with Magness stating getting weather-impacted generators back online as soon as possible.

Why were there longer outages as opposed to rolling blackouts?

Leadership stood by their decision to start outages overnight Monday as the winter storm began statewide.

They explained that if it wasn't done, it could have caused outages that lasted months.

13 INVESTIGATES: 48 hours without power a 'nightmare' as residents demand answers
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How did Texas get to the point of prolonged outages during this historic winter storm? In the video, 13 Investigates' Ted Oberg looked back to the system that the state was built on.



Why did so many people need to lose power?

If the system load wasn't kept in balance, the state was at risk of cascading, catastrophic blackouts. Those are much more serious than even what we've seen, because they put the critical operations, such as hospitals, police, and emergency response, at risk. Those would not be outages that could be restored, but they could potentially have lasted for weeks.

Can more households get power back today?

ERCOT's leaders felt that was a strong possibility as the homes currently online use less power and they bring supply and demand back into better balance. As it warms up, the amount of power being used by the homes that have power is lessening, so the supply and demand moves into better balance.

What is best and worst case scenario for fully restored power?

It really all depends on the generators of power, the board said. As fast the energy producers can come back online, they're restoring what can be.



What makes this current outage different from a blackout?

Even though this feels endless, a blackout could be catastrophic, leaving Texas without power for even months.

Has ERCOT sold any energy to other providers during this event?

The board claims that notion is either a miscommunication or misunderstanding. Texas has been trying to import power from other generators/sources. But we can't get more than they can give, when they're faced with their own shortages.

How ERCOT leaders responded to Gov. Abbott's call for the board to resign?

They basically passed on answering, sticking to the message that the priority is getting through this terrible situation and they promise to assess the next steps after we get the power back on.

SEE MORE: Gov. Greg Abbott calls on ERCOT leadership to resign during ABC13 one-on-one interview
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The governor appeared visibly frustrated when asked about the response to the state's power outage crisis by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Watch the full interview in the video above.



Will it help when the weather warms up?

Yes. Frozen wind turbines will thaw. When the roads are drivable, they can bring in workers to get things back online. Natural gas supply will pick back up after freezing weather ends.

How do you respond to critics who say you aren't being transparent to the public?

They said they tried to give notices starting on Feb. 8 that there would be an excessive load, and they did a press conference with the governor on Saturday.

SEE ALSO: Power lines blown from Humble utility poles as electricity is restored
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A brief moment of happiness quickly faded as the lights returned to one neighborhood, only to go dark again in an instant.



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