Power grids face test during bitter cold

Weather

(NewsNation) — Dangerously cold temperatures are raising real concerns about whether or not power grids can withstand the demand for heat.

Especially concerned are residents in Texas, especially after February 2021, when the state’s power grid failed, leaving people leaving people in the dark for days. More than 200 people died, and AccuWeather estimates Texas lost $130 billion in economic damages as a result of the storm that led to widespread blackouts.

This time, though, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and energy company officials are stressing that the grid is ready, pointing to how it was able to make it through the summer even when, in June, the state was already breaking heat records.

Demand, officials say, is below the maximum capacity of 75,000 megawatts as well. The Houston Chronicle reported Friday morning that power demand started to tick up to 74,061 megawatts.

“I think trust will be earned over the next few days as people see that we have ultra-cold temperatures, and the grid is going to be able to perform with ease,” Abbott said at a news conference, per the New York Times. “Trust has to be earned back over a period of time, and I think that we will show that we can earn that trust.”

Wind chills on Thursday made it feel like it was below zero in several parts of the country, and there were flurries all around the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Meanwhile, Texas’ emergency management personnel have opened hundreds of warming shelters across the state. Officials are stressing the need for people to take the cold seriously.

“Any flat tire, any bad battery problems and (being) stuck out in this dangerous cold can be life-threatening,” W. Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said. “So please make plans to prepare your vehicles and your homes.”

Super cold temperatures didn’t just hit the Southwest Thursday. Wind chills just east of Laramie, Wyoming fell as low as 62 below zero. At Denver International Airport a wind chill was measured at negative 40 degrees, while Omaha, Nebraska’s, hovered near 42 below zero.

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