At least 4 million Texans have been without electricity for more than a day in an unprecedented crisis caused by a winter storm.
ERCOT has officially declared they have no idea how long this situation will last. They are instructing utility companies, like Oncor, to cut power to customers to avoid a full power blackout. This would keep Texans without power for “much, much longer” according to ERCOT CEO Bill Magness. Other ERCOT officials were cautious to provide a possible end of the outages to state legislators on a call earlier this Tuesday.
Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference on Wednesday that the Legislature will investigate ERCOT and how they are managing the storm.
Regarding the disaster happening statewide, Will Englund from The Washington Post, explained the origin of the crisis, “What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans. It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service.”
Central and Southern Texas seems to be experiencing the worst large-scale outages, with counties like Llano and Mason facing a complete blackout.
Likewise, more than a third of Hidalgo County residents were out of power, the McAllen Monitor reported. Additionally, around 41,000 people in Cameron and Willacy Counties were without power as well.
To make matters worse, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has already warned that the winter storm and subsequent widespread power outages will probably negatively impact the state’s food supply chain.
Miller has already asked Gov. Greg Abbott to prioritize the supply of gas and electricity to farmers and food processors (along with hospitals and first responders), so they can continue their operations.
According to Miller, farmers have already reported major disruptions as the cold weather impacts their livestock and agriculture products. This could create a massive food shortage statewide, affecting the supply of basic commodities in all of Texas major cities.