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Texas power grid back to normal operations, but 180,000 still without power

Luz Moreno-Lozano
Austin American-Statesman
Thea Clay remains without electricity in her condo on Southway Drive on Friday. She has been without power since Monday at 2 a.m.

Five days into a statewide winter storm that left millions without power and water, more than 180,000 Texans remained without power as of Friday afternoon. 

But officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the nonprofit that manages the power grid for the state, said the remaining outages are not because of any power reduction. 

As of Friday morning, the grid is no longer in emergency operations and has returned to normal. 

“There is enough generation on the electric system to allow us to begin to return to more normal operating conditions,” said Dan Woodfin, ERCOT's senior director of system operations.

Officials said customers who are still without power are likely in areas where the distribution system was damaged by the storm, or was taken out of service due to emergency load shed and needs power lines to be restored manually. Some large industrial facilities also voluntarily went offline to help during the energy emergency. 

As of noon Friday, more than 21,000 are still without power in Austin. 

For subscribers: ERCOT said grid was prepared for winter weeks before Texas power crisis

“While the sun is out today and temperatures are rising, cold and icy conditions continue to affect the Austin area and Austin Energy’s electrical equipment,” officials said in a written statement. “Some customers may still experience power outages related to the winter storm and full restoration may take several days. All available Austin Energy crews are working to safely restore power. We have made great progress on getting households back online.” 

In the Pedernales Electric Cooperative area, which includes Hays County, portions of Williamson County, and parts of the Hill Country, more than 5,000 customers are still without power. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, which serves areas east of Austin, had about 60 customers still without power Friday. 

Oncor Electric Delivery Co. — serving much of Williamson County, Bastrop, Odessa, Van Horn, Fort Worth, Dallas and Wichita Falls — still showed more than 95,000 customers without power. 

Most residents in other major Texas cities had power Friday, but about 600 people in San Antonio and more than 6,000 people in Houston were still without electricity.

Electric utility companies across the state said they will continue to address the remaining customer outages and have encouraged residents still without power to contact their local providers. 

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Many questions still remain about the grid's unpreparedness to withstand a severe weather event of this magnitude and the catastrophic result of ERCOT's rotating outages plan. 

ERCOT leaders say they will continue to look at that in the coming weeks and days and that they will work to ensure this does not happen again. 

“We share the sadness and grief that came to state with this event,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness in a news conference Friday. “It has been a difficult period for the state. We will continue to try to explain the event and what we saw and did. We are subject to policymakers and leaders, and, if they see something that needs to change, we will change it or take any action we are told to do.”

Thea Clay brings electricity from a neighbor’s extension cord into her condo on Southway Drive on Friday. She has been without power since Monday at 2 a.m.