Millions Lose Power in Texas as Freeze Sows Market Chaos

Date: 2021-02-15 16:15:34

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Millions of households in Texas are suffering rolling blackouts for the first time in a decade as an unprecedented Arctic freeze sends temperatures plummeting across much of the U.S., roiling energy markets.

Large swaths of Dallas, Houston and other cities are being plunged into darkness for an hour at a time — and in some cases longer — as surging demand for heat pushes the power grid to the brink. The situation is poised to become more dire as temperatures are forecast to fall even lower later tonight, when demand will surge too.

“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” said Bill Magness, head of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the state’s grid.

The average spot price for power across the Texas grid hit the state’s $9,000 per megawatt-hour price cap shortly after 9:30 a.m. local time.

The extreme cold that’s crippling Texas’s power market is part of a larger weather pattern gripping much of the U.S. Winter storm warnings, advisories and watches stretch from New Mexico to Maine. In the past week, about 800 daily records for cold temperatures have been set in the U.S. as arctic air pushes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Accuweather called it one of the busiest winter-weather patterns in decades.​

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