Rolling Power Outages Could Return

Updated 9:43 p.m. 2/2/11 –

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – People all across North Texas continue to be impacted by Tuesday morning’s cold blast of winter weather. Snow and ice remain on area roadways, as temperatures have been in the teens and below for the past day. This is the coldest air to move through North Texas in 15 years, and the coldest day in 21 years  — and conditions will not be heating up until the weekend.

Tag your location on our interactive power outage map:

The problems aren’t just with the cold outside. Oncor reported tens of thousands of people without power Wednesday. That included some residents in nearly all parts of North Texas. Dorothy White with the City of Garland later confirmed that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) was in the process of rolling outages.

A statement then released by Dottie Roark with ERCOT said that ERCOT “instructed utilities to begin rotating outages to compensate for a generation shortage due to numerous plant trips that occurred because of extreme weather.” The power outages, a process called ‘load-shedding,’ are taking place statewide.

By mid-day ERCOT announced that the rotating outages were “no longer needed”, but a spokesperson told CBS 11 News they could again become necessary this evening and Thursday.   In a statement Wednesday night ERCOT urged Texas residents to reduce power usage during peak-demand time Thursday morning from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

ERCOT officials said the grid situation is improving, but conservation was still needed.  The state’s power grid hit an all-time winter peak demand Wednesday night between 7-8 p.m.

ERCOT officials also said that some of the customers who are still without power have lost electricity because of the winter storm and not the rotating outages.

Early Wednesday afternoon, Terry Hadley, a spokesman for the Texas Public Utility Commission, said across the state millions of Texans have been or will be impacted by the blackouts.

Initially, Roark said the outages, which started around 6:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, would just be temporary – lasting somewhere between 10 and 45 minutes per neighborhood – and that “critical need customers such as hospitals and nursing homes” are not included in the process. But as the morning and afternoon went on, CBS 11 News received reports of outages lasting for several hours.

Hadley said at least two major electric generating plants shut down overnight.  Those shut downs reduced the amount of electricity in the system by 10 percent. When that happened, ERCOT ordered utilities to start the rolling outages.

Hadley said state officials understand that “this is a major inconvenience for a lot of people.”  The rolling outages are designed to minimize that inconvenience, he said.

Burst water pipes at two coal-fired power plants forced them to shut down, triggering the rolling power cuts.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told the Associated Press he was told that the pipes at two Austin-area plants, Oak Grove and Sand Hill, forced them to cut electricity production. Natural gas power plants that should have provided back up had difficulty starting due to low pressure in the supply lines, also caused by the cold weather.

Atmos Energy, the main provider of Natural Gas in North Texas, posted a statement to their Investor Relations page Wednesday saying a curtailment order was put into place at noon Wednesday for industrial customers north of I-30.  The release asks residents to set thermostats at 65 degrees and limit early morning hot water use.

There is at least one North Texas location that doesn’t have to worry about losing power — Oncor said Cowboys Stadium is exempt from the rolling outages. While the stadium will remain light and warm, Oncor spokeswoman Jeamy Molina said other Super Bowl facilities, such as team hotels, were not exempt.

Molina said that Oncor has been aiming for 15 minute outages, and trying to impact as few neighborhoods as possible during their rolling blackout periods. Customers are advised to call Oncor (888-313-4747) and report the outage should it last for an extended period of time.

>> Visit Oncor’s Website <<

In the meantime, residents all across North Texas are advised to limit their electricity use by turning off any lights or appliances that are not in use and turning off electronic devices that are not necessary.

Most schools across North Texas have already announced closures for the third straight day, including those in the Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Denton Independent School Districts. Other businesses and agencies are also deciding they will be closed again on Thursday.

>> Check The Latest Closings & Delays <<

Despite the widespread closures and delays, many North Texas drivers still ventured out into the cold and onto the icy roads on. Before the evening rush hour, there were already numerous car accident reports.

Some area roads appeared fine at first glance, causing some drivers to become over-confident behind the wheel. Drivers should be on the lookout for ‘ambush ice’ (as CBS 11’s Jeff Ray dubbed it on Wednesday morning). Slick patches are still present, especially on bridges and in the shadows. A driver that hits these patches at dangerous speeds is likely to wind up sliding out of control.

>> Check Area Traffic Conditions <<

For those who do not want to drive on the potentially hazardous roads, there are public transportation options available. Regular service is running for DART, The T and the TRE. Riders should be careful at bus stops and transit centers, however, due to slick spots.

>> DART Website | The T Website |TRE Website <<

For those looking to get away from this icy mess, DFW International Airport and Dallas Love Field are fully operational, although thousands of flights have been canceled nationwide — and that number will surely grow throughout the day.

>> Check Flight Status: DFW Airport | Love Field <<

As always, whether you are traveling in the air, on the road — or just staying at home — remember to put safety first and be careful. Conditions should improve in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

>> Check The Latest Weather Video From CBS 11/TXA 21 <<

  • June Acheson

    Rolling blackouts are understandable. It is nice to know that they are only for 15 minutes at a time. However, what is the interval? My power was out from 6:45 to 7:00 this morning. When will it go out again?

    • Mel

      Mine was off for an hour. Wyh don’t they shut all the goverment offices down??

      • Rob

        Mine was out for 2 hours this morning, from 8 to 10, and then for 4 hours this afternoon from 1 to 5, is this supposed to continue over night? I already have 1 frozen maybe broken pipe from the ordeal.

      • Julie

        You mean the government office that is in charge of sanding the roads or the government office that’s rescuing stranded motorists or the government office that’s setting up shelters so that people whose power has gone out have someplace warm to go? What an excellent idea. How about we just all turn off all our heat!? That’ll take care of those pesky rolling blackouts!

    • Joe Rizzo

      Call Austin Generator Service for all your generator need. Automatic Backup Generator, Rental Generators, and Generator service and repair

  • Jason Geymer

    Power just went out, south Keller, about 7:50.

    • Jason Geymer

      Power just went out, south Keller, about 7:50.

      Power back on just about 10 minutes off.

  • Sylvia Moore

    We just heard from our daughter in Rowlett on Mercurys Road. She has been without power since 2 AM. Our other daughter on Dartmouth says power went down about 5:30, came back up and is currently out again. Both are all electric homes.

  • Debbie bogart

    All schools are closed. That alone should have helped with the power!! Why were we not warned

    • texasproud

      the schools dont turn their power off. disd runs power to all those beautiful and highly ennergy efficient portables(i am joking). As the article mentioned the power plants conveniently shut down last nite so we could have this shortage. Texas has abundance of natural gas, abundance of coal , lots of room in west texas for nuclear power, and a leader in wind energy..we have no shortage.

      • readyforspring

        Power plants don’t conveniently “shut down” in these situations. Power plants are a business just like anything else and if they aren’t running they have no income. To suggest or imply that they just stopped producing power is ridiculous.

        The most likely scenario is that the unitls lost power. All the employees that spent the night trying to keep everything thawed out that is tens of stories high or out in the elements were not successful. Possibly everyone here that is complaining that the power companies aren’t working hard enough would like to volunteer their services in sub zero wind chills to ensure that your house stays warm.

        Texas does have a wealth of natural resources available however they also have a wealth of people that do not want this in their back yard. How many of you are now willing to have a nuclear, coal or power generation plant built in your community or have natural gas drilled in your area. Because I don’t see people on the news asking for this, what I see is people trying to stop this from happening.

        I hope you are all nice and toasty in your glass houses while the power/gas company employees are out in this subzero weather.

      • TIM

        Dude, any Northern state puts up with far worse weather than we. If they can’t hack it, they need to lose the job. Period. No excuses.

        As far as new plants being stopped from construction, if power companies told the truth more often than not about the pollution levels, people wouldn’t fight so hard against them. Tell the truth, get what you need. Lie once and no one believes you any other time.

        Rolling blackouts?! The only thing that should be rolling are the heads at ERCOT.

      • steve

        The electric companies in the northern states don’t have any problem keeping their plants up and running during much colder conditions. The difference is that they plan for cold weather and invest in the right equipment. The morons that are running our electric utilities apparently don’t believe that it can ever get colder than 15 degrees here. Someone needs to lose their job for this one.

      • Paul

        I think this is all part of Cap and Tax! It’s Obama fault. He is the problem with this whole nation. We need to vote Obama out in 2012.

      • Steve

        Hey Paul, right on! I actually blame Jimmy Carter, though. And the New World Order. It’s all a part of their plan to mildly inconvenience you.

      • charles wilson

        i agree with you on that
        have turn off power not needed and as far as the super bowl people and jerry jones thinking they sould not be apart of the blackout . all power should be cut off now

      • Mandy Lewis

        I think it is retarted that they ar eleaving the Cowboys Stadium on for right now.. Umm The Super Bowl isn’t till Sunday.. soo between now and then they don’t need power. But of course ya know that is wayyy more important than the many familes with children or elders living in their home. I wish people would realize what is important and what isn’t..

  • Robert

    Fun morning in Cedar Hill. Power went out around 6am which caused a smoke detector problem and all the alarms went off! (problem was in the second to last disconnected)

    Currently 8am, just drained as much of the pool equipment I could to minimize freeze damage. (pumps cant run)

    Fun morning :)

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  • Tammy

    Im in the lewisville area on CoServ electric. My power went out about 7:30. Then acted like they were bringing it back online. It went off and on like 5 times and unfortunately ended with it being off. :-(

  • RS

    I know that all local news stations are not on the air!

  • loraine schaefer

    i live in the denton area and the power has gone off 3 times already. it goes off for 15min and comes back on for 20min. how long is this suppose to last?

  • Laura

    Flower Mound without power again. it went out at 8:25am

  • Chase

    Roanoke… Lost power at 8:15, has been off now for 18 minutes.

    • Chase

      Roanoke… Back on at 8:38.

  • Joy Ashmore

    Here in Plano near Parker Rd. we are on our 3rd or 4th short blackout.

    • Cee Jay

      Really?! I’m at very near Parker & Coit and have yet to have the first one but am prepared for when it does happen. :o/

  • Patti

    I am in Johnson County, I live in Joshua close to Godley. My power has gone out several times and off for about 30 mins each time. Our power company is United Coop and they get it back up fast…however its not keeping my home from getting cold fast, even with my fire place going its still dropping down inside of my home into the 40’s fast!!! Hope this weather clears up soon!!!

  • Aidan

    The Oncor rep is either lying or was lied to. We were out for 2.5 hours (0600-0830). Guess Oncor designated Pleasant Grove for the deep freeze…

    • TJ

      My thoughts exactly – they lied or were lied to… Mine has been out for over an hour and this is the 2nd time this morning.

  • Melanie

    15 minuets – I wish! Power went out in our Crowley neighborhood at 10:15 last night and didn’t come back on until 6:30 this morning. That 888 number is just an automated reporting system. It told us our power would be back on by 1:15 a.m., but that was not the case.

  • Alan

    Well several years back the decision was made not to build power plants in order to placate the greens. This means in extreme events there is no reserve power. The blackout situation is only going to get worse in the future.

    • kukaniloko

      I think there was a wind turbine that exploded, thus leaking all this wind in the environment. Thanks alot Greens.

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  • http://918tamaralngrandprairietx75051 Jesenia schwarz

    Hello from grand prairie i dont have power since 8:05 am this morning is 9:10am and i still with no power i am very worry about this situation because, i have three children and all three are small ages, i hope oncor can solve this problem soon. Please people stay safe dont go out. Thanks:-)

  • Kay Neely

    15min is really ONE HOUR. From 7:20 to 8:20. My heater is working overtime not to warm the house back up.

  • Bob Douthit

    My first power outage in Melissa lasted over an hour. I have a repiratory disease and need a breathing machine at night. My oxygen system doesn’t require electricity but the breathing system does. I can’t get a hold of my power company or Oncor to communicate this information. Any suggestions.

    • John

      Suggestions? Buy a generator for next time.

      • Kelli Kegg

        well, some people that are sick with respiratory type diseases are living on a budget and don’t have the money to buy generators.

    • Amy


      I would call 911 in your area and tell them of your situation.

      My prayers are with you,

  • Tee Shal

    Wonder if Arlington is affected by the blackouts. Or maybe they’re just sucking it all up

  • Kalela Brown

    What NERVE the City of Dallas has to request during these rollling “load share/power outages” to request that the convention center & their city hall be expempt from the outages to accomodate the stupid super bowl activities. Of course – let’s just forget the residents who live here & pay for it every day to accomodate the big spenders who are here for a few days! IDIOTS!!

    While they are playing favorites, why not exempt the tourists hotels, restaurants & whatever else they “might” want to do while they are here & for however long they want to do it. But…by all means don’t inconvenience those of us who live here.

    • T VOSS

      Shut the stadium down and send the power to the people. We have hospitals canceling surgery cause they don’t know when the next blackout is. Pathetic. I heard Tuesday 70 trucks with sand were brought up from Abiline to use for areas of super bowl activities. PLEASE To hell with the citizens, shut dwn their power all in the name of football!

  • Thomas

    I bet Arlington or actually cowboys stadium is one of those places like a hospital or nursing home that they won’t “target” for an outage!!! Way to go king Jerry!!

  • Ms.J

    With the high electric bills($600),you would think they would have this under better control(in any situation)Where is all of our money really going?

    • Aidan

      Oncor is owned by TXU who is owned by a private equity firm (KKR I believe). Thats where your money is going.

      • Carl

        Oncor gets very little of your high electric bills. Most of that goes back to companies who actually generate the power, which it appears we don’t have enough of in this state.

        Oh, and and $600, I’d suggest a new provider or some serious efficiency upgrades.

      • Aidan

        The main generation company is Luminant (at least one of the plants (Sand Hill) is theirs I believe). Luminant is also owned by TXU, so it all goes to KKR regardless.

    • diddy

      u agree w u…and alot of these posts. i have been here for 10 yrs and there is an ice storm every year but they never seem prepared for it…….something just not right about the whole thing…..i think rick perry needs to get on the phone ASAP….

  • kris

    My power has been out for over 2 hours in McKinney. What’s the deal with us?

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