Major storm in Texas: Over 1 million people without Power

Severe thunderstorms have wreaked havoc in southeastern Texas, particularly in Houston, causing significant disruptions to the power grid. These storms, which produced hurricane-force winds, have led to widespread power outages, structural damages, and a state of alert in ERCOT.

  • Widespread Power Outages: Nearly a million homes and businesses lost power due to the storms. The restoration efforts are ongoing, and outages could last for weeks in some areas. Over 1 million customers were affected at the peak, including 800,000 in the Houston metro area.
  • Infrastructure Damage: High winds, reaching up to 78 mph, caused trees to fall, power lines to snap, and transmission towers to crumble. Downtown Houston saw significant damage, with shattered windows and debris-strewn streets.
  • Extended Recovery Efforts: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Houston Mayor John Whitmire indicated that the recovery process would be lengthy, potentially taking weeks to fully restore power and clear debris.
  • Impact on Critical Services: Schools, government offices, and businesses were closed, affecting more than 400,000 students and numerous employees. Essential services were disrupted, and the public was advised to avoid travel due to hazardous conditions like downed power lines and malfunctioning traffic signals.

Transmission power lines are down near the Grand Parkway and West Road after a storm Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Cypress, Texas. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)

ERCOT’s Monitoring and Response:

ERCOT,  responsible for more than 26 million Texas customers, is closely monitoring the situation.

  • Grid Stability: ERCOT is monitoring the grid to ensure it remains stable despite the extensive damage and power outages.
  • Coordination with Utilities: ERCOT is coordinating with local utilities to prioritize and expedite power restoration efforts. The focus is on restoring power to critical infrastructure and then to residential areas.
  • Power Restoration Coordination: Working with utility companies like CenterPoint Energy to expedite power restoration efforts. CenterPoint has warned residents to prepare for extended outages, as 10 energy transmission lines are down, and repairs are expected to take weeks.
  • Emergency Response: Coordinating with state and local emergency management teams to address immediate safety concerns and facilitate rapid response to infrastructure repairs.

Highs on Saturday and Sunday are expected to climb back into the low 90s around Houston. With typical humid Gulf air in place, heat index readings are expected to reach the mid-90s this weekend, climbing to around 100 or just over by early next week – See below image from Arcus Power Dashboard.

With many transmission lines down, major power outages, the demand could shoot up significantly as more and more people switch on their air conditioners to relieve from the heat.

It makes it all the more difficult for Ercot to take support from the utilities and ensure rapid power restoration.

Stay tuned, we’ll be constantly monitoring the market and updating this blog.

All Nrgstream customers, Monitor your dashboards, critical times in Ercot the next few weeks.