Texas’ power outages compared to Hurricane Harvey

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Texans who shopped for electricity in 2014 paid more on average than folks who only had one power option. (Photo by Dan Atrill via The Texas Tribune)

Harlingen, Texas (KVEO) – As thousands of families in the Rio Grande Valley lost power due to the winter storm, experts are comparing the damage to Hurricane Harvey.

Reports of power outages in the Rio Grande Valley started at 9:30 p.m. Sunday night, and have continued through Monday.

KXAN reporter spoke to a Public Utility Commission spokesperson that compared this event to a snow equivalent of Hurricane Harvey.

 “This is essentially the ice and snow equivalent of [Hurricane] Harvey across the entire state,” said Andrew Barlow, Public Utility Commission spokesperson.

Barlow explained that the mass power outages were caused by generation companies going offline due to the cold, ice causing power lines to fail and the high demand from customers to keep their houses warm.

In order to save energy, generation companies began rolling outages, but Barlow said these are different from what people are used to.

“Rolling outages may only take 30 to 40, or 60 minutes per household,” he said. “In this case, the outages and the loss of that electricity was so severe that some of these outages have had to go longer than desired.”

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has ordered blackouts across the state to preserve power. The generators are facing a shortage of natural gas, wind, and solar to maintain the power grid.

Sunday afternoon, Governor Gregg Abbott announced the deployment of resources as a response to the weather.

Barlow asks those that still have power to conserve it and keep the thermostat under 68 degrees.

“If your electricity is off, just know that people are working very hard to get your power back home,” he said. He encourages families that don’t have the power to look into shelters that have power generators and can keep them safe.”

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