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Deep freeze paralyzes Texas and knocks out its power grid

The deep freeze that has paralyzed Texas and sparked an energy crisis has resulted in some people sleeping in their cars to keep warn as 5 million homes are plunged into darkness amid unprecedented rolling blackouts. 

The cold bast caused by winter storm Uri is wreaking havoc on the energy industry with Texas oil wells and refineries halted and natural gas pipelines and wind turbines frozen. 

Oil production in the country’s largest crude-producing state has plunged by more than two million barrels a day due to the storm, which has sent prices surging to $60 a barrel for the first time in a year. 

Wind turbines, which account for a fifth of the state’s energy, have frozen solid and are contributing to the state’s power woes as temperatures plummet to a bitter -20F. 

Nearly five million households in Texas were without power overnight and many residents took desperate refuge in their cars for warmth after the electric grid failed to keep up with heightened demand.  

The Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities across 14 states, was forced to impose unprecedented rolling blackouts because the supply of reserve energy had been exhausted.  

The deep freeze that has paralyzed Texas by knocking out its power grid and sparking an energy crisis saw 5 million homes plunged into darkness amid unprecedented rolling blackouts. Pictured above is homes in Houston without power but empty offices still lit up

TEXAS: Dan Bryant and his wife Anna huddle by the fire with sons Benny, 3, and Sam, 12 weeks, along with their dog Joey, also wearing two doggie sweaters, with power out and temperatures dropping inside their home after a winter storm brought snow and freezing temperatures to North Texas

TEXAS: Dan Bryant and his wife Anna huddle by the fire with sons Benny, 3, and Sam, 12 weeks, along with their dog Joey, also wearing two doggie sweaters, with power out and temperatures dropping inside their home after a winter storm brought snow and freezing temperatures to North Texas

Oil production in the country's largest crude-producing state has plunged by more than two million barrels a day due to the storm, which has sent prices surging to $60 a barrel for the first time in a year. Pictured above is Exelon Power Texas in Dallas on Tuesday

Oil production in the country’s largest crude-producing state has plunged by more than two million barrels a day due to the storm, which has sent prices surging to $60 a barrel for the first time in a year. Pictured above is Exelon Power Texas in Dallas on Tuesday

Some utilities said they were starting blackouts, while others urged customers to reduce power usage, in a bid to prevent the collapse of their networks. 

An image showing empty office buildings in downtown Houston still lit up last night has sparked outrage given there were 1.3 million people across the city without power. 

Surging demand, driven by people trying to keep their homes warm and cold weather knocking some power stations offline, has pushed Texas’ system beyond the limits.  

‘This weather event, it’s really unprecedented. We all living here know that,’ said Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. 

He defended preparations made by grid operators and described the demand on the system as record-setting.

‘This event was well beyond the design parameters for a typical, or even an extreme, Texas winter that you would normally plan for. And so that is really the result that we’re seeing,’ Woodfin said. 

The crisis has sparked concerns about how the energy landscape may change amid the push to rely on renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. 

The current crisis started to unfold when freezing temperatures that started at the beginning of the month sent prices for heating fuels, including oil and natural gas, surging higher.

The rapidly dropping temperatures resulted in gas pipelines seizing up, wind turbines freezing and oil wells shutting. 

It occurred at a time when demand for heating – from households and businesses – surged to record highs. 

‘I’ve been following energy markets and grid issues for a while, and I cannot recall an extreme weather event that impacted such a large swath of the nation in this manner – the situation is critical,’ Neil Chatterjee, a member of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, told Bloomberg.     

A map from poweroutage.us showed that nearly 5 million people were without power in Texas, and several hundred thousand in Louisiana and Oregon

A map from poweroutage.us showed that nearly 5 million people were without power in Texas, and several hundred thousand in Louisiana and Oregon

Some utilities said they were starting blackouts, while others urged customers to reduce power usage, in a bid to prevent the collapse of their networks

Some utilities said they were starting blackouts, while others urged customers to reduce power usage, in a bid to prevent the collapse of their networks

Nearly five million households in Texas were without power overnight and many residents took desperate refuge in their cars for warmth after the electric grid failed to keep up with heightened demand

Nearly five million households in Texas were without power overnight and many residents took desperate refuge in their cars for warmth after the electric grid failed to keep up with heightened demand

Nearly five million households in Texas were without power overnight and many residents took desperate refuge in their cars for warmth after the electric grid failed to keep up with heightened demand

Reports are now emerging of Texans staying in their cars just to keep warm, including 44-year-old Clint Cash. 

He told CBS: ‘It was awfully cold and of course getting colder, but honestly I slept in all my clothes, pretty much what I’m wearing right now I slept in. I am taking it minute by minute day by day. I don’t plan on driving.’ 

A half-dozen Houston residents were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning on Monday after using a charcoal grill to warm their home, officials said.

A woman and a child died of carbon monoxide poisoning overnight after trying to use their car for warmth. A man and boy survived but are being treated in hospital.  

President Joe Biden has declared an emergency in Texas to pledge federal aid to the state. 

As nightfall threatened to plummet temperatures again into single digits in Texas, officials warned that homes in the state still without power would likely not have heat until at least Tuesday.  

‘Things will likely get worse before they get better,’ said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in the county of nearly 5 million people around Houston.  

Temperatures nosedived into the single-digits as far south as San Antonio, and homes that had already been without electricity for hours had no certainty about when the lights and heat would come back on. 

In Dallas, officials told residents to refrain from calling 911 to report power outages as the 911 call center became overwhelmed with power outage calls.  

Drone footages captures snowfall in Galveston, Texas amid winter storm Uri

Drone footages captures snowfall in Galveston, Texas amid winter storm Uri

TEXAS: State officials said surging demand, driven by people trying to keep their homes warm, and cold weather knocking some power stations offline had pushed Texas' system beyond the limits

TEXAS: State officials said surging demand, driven by people trying to keep their homes warm, and cold weather knocking some power stations offline had pushed Texas’ system beyond the limits

MISSOURI: Snowplows form a gangplow to clear the snow on Highway 270 in Des Peres, Missouri on Monday. St. Louis received about eight inches of snow as temperatures remained around zero for the day, with real feel temperatures about 16 degrees below zero

MISSOURI: Snowplows form a gangplow to clear the snow on Highway 270 in Des Peres, Missouri on Monday. St. Louis received about eight inches of snow as temperatures remained around zero for the day, with real feel temperatures about 16 degrees below zero

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