DALLAS - Electricity providers and the grid operator say the power outages are going to increase Tuesday as another major winter storm rolls in.
Hundreds of thousands of North Texans are still experiencing power outages Tuesday due to a historic winter weather event and things may get worse before they get better.
As of Tuesday night, there are more than 566,000 customers in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties in the dark. Oncor told customers to prepare for additional outages.
There was some fingerpointing about who is responsible for the big failure when it comes to the outages. But the only thing that matters right now is getting people out of the dark and extreme cold.
ERCOT says work is already underway to restore power progressively, with full restoration possibly in the next day or so if there are no more generation losses.
ERCOT says frozen wind turbines and limited gas supplies have limited its ability to generate power. The rolling blackouts help protect the reliability of the grid as a whole.
Oncor had been saying people experiencing the extended outages may be due in part to equipment failure or that it protects critical infrastructure like hospitals and first responder facilities.
But Tuesday, Oncor indicated part of the problem is continuing to not get the power generation from ERCOT, appearing to point a finger at them.
"With that amount of customers we have to drop, essentially it doesn't give us a lot of options to spread those out anymore. We don’t have enough to move those across the grid and still meet that direction to drop enough to keep the grid secure," said Oncor spokesperson Kerri Dunn. "As soon as there is more generation available, we are hopeful that we will be able to implement our regular rotating outages and target the customers who have been without power the longest."
ERCOT is ordering Oncor and other electricity providers to implement the blackouts.
ERCOT CEO Bill Magness spoke with media members on Tuesday.
"I don’t think there was any underestimation of the seriousness of the storm," he said.
Governor Abbott has called for an investigation into ERCOT and their handling of the winter storm.
Magness said a full investigation is appropriate and defended the reliability of Texas’ electrical grid.
"We have a very large capable system that can meet the highest demands it has ever faced," he said. His comment seemingly ignored that millions of Texans remain without power.
Magness also said large users of power are easing their use.
"A lot of the large industrial customers have curtailed their use, if not fully, significantly," Magness said.
ERCOT, which does not own the power plants or energy generation systems, says power generators like wind turbines, gas, coal and nuclear plants went offline overnight Monday.
And despite the massive blackouts, ERCOT denies being unprepared for a major winter snowstorm everyone saw coming long in advance.
"All the generation tripping offline. That was not expected because the winterization the generation industry put in place," said ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin. "We implemented those after 2011."
Gov. Abbott’s view of ERCOT's performance is a lot different than ERCOT's self-evaluation and is calling for an investigation.
"ERCOT has not been able to provide us definitive information about when all power will be restored. That said, there is tremendous disappointment in the way that ERCOT has handled this entire episode," Abbott said. "Earlier today, I added an emergency item to the legislative agenda this session. I declared ERCOT reform an emergency item for the legislature to undertake."
All the apparent passing the buck going on is no relief right now to the millions of Texans freezing in their homes, seeking shelter or unable to open their businesses.
While they want someone held accountable, they first just want some heat.