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February 2, 2011 (512) 463-0300

COLD WEATHER CAUSES ROLLING BLACKOUTS

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst speaking to reporters
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst speaks to reporters about the rolling blackouts that swept the state Wednesday.

(AUSTIN) — Many Texans woke Wednesday morning to darkness as the state experienced a series of managed blackouts. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) initiated the blackouts at 5:30 a.m., as cold weather caused water pipes to break at two north Texas power plants. Natural gas backup generators normally come online in such situations, but the weather chilled the gas to the point that the pressure was too low to engage the backup generators. In order to deal with the lack of available generation, areas statewide were put into temporary blackouts. Areas affected included mostly residential and light commercial areas.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said the outages are frustrating and that ERCOT should have been prepared to deal with such an event. "This should not happen," he said. "I'm going to spend the afternoon trying to find out what happened, and since the cold weather will be continuing for a few days to make sure it doesn't continue." According to Dewhurst, the overnight peak of about 55,000 megawatts of demand was well below the state's maximum generation capacity of 68,000. ERCOT is encouraging Texans to try and conserve power as much as possible, but has given no indication to when the rolling blackouts will end.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, February 7th at 1:30 pm.


Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.

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