The beleaguered power grid in Texas is now back online and running at “normal operations,” according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the Lone Star state’s electrical system.
“ERCOT operations have returned to normal, and we are no longer asking for energy conservation. Thanks for helping the grid during this very difficult time,” the council wrote in a Friday tweet.
Bill Magness, ERCOT president and CEO, said on a conference call Friday that, “We just got the notice from our control room that we have left the last stage of emergency operations, so we are completely back to normal operations.”
At around 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, Texas’ power grid was operating at a capacity of 56,199 megawatts, plus an operating reserve of just under 4,000 megawatts, according to ERCOT‘s dashboard. At the same time, demand was running at 52,397 megawatts.
Texas has a generating capacity of about 67,000 megawatts in the winter compared with a peak capacity of about 86,000 megawatts in the summer. The gap between the winter and summer supply reflects power plants going offline for maintenance during months when demand typically is less intense and there’s not as much energy coming from wind and solar sources.
But planning for this winter didn’t imagine temperatures cold enough to freeze natural gas supply lines and stop wind turbines from spinning. By Wednesday, 46,000 megawatts of power were offline statewide—28,000 from natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants and 18,000 from wind and solar, according to ERCOT.
The brutal cold snap led to rolling blackouts across the state left more than 4 million Texans without power. Adding to the distress, lack of power in water treatment facilities led to a water boil advisory for around 7 million Texans.
The severe cold snap paralyzed almost every energy source in Texas, from power plants to wind turbines. This might have been avoided if operators had chosen or been required to equip their plants like ones that operate in northern, cold-weather states.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday demanded that lawmakers make the winterization of power plants mandatory under state law.
“What happened this week to our fellow Texans is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again,” he said.
Abbott also lashed out at ERCOT and its leadership for what the governor said was a failure to provide an accurate assessment of the state’s generating capacity ahead of the extreme cold spell.
“ERCOT has failed on each of these measures that they said they had undertaken,” Abbott told a media briefing Thursday. “Texans deserve answers.”
The energy supply crisis is now turning into a price shock, with those Texans that get their electricity on variable or indexed plans facing potentially sky-high bills.
In Texas’ highly competitive electricity market, some retail providers offer customers prices pegged to daily wholesale rates or other forms of indexing. Under normal circumstances, this can mean lower prices, but after the cold snap squeezed grid capacity and led to a dramatic run-up in wholesale electricity prices, some households have been hit with huge bills.
Ty Williams, a Dallas-area resident, saw his monthly bill soar from $600 last month to nearly $17,000 so far this month, according to local news outlet WFAA.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.