AUSTIN, Texas - About 70,000 Texans are without power Thursday as the state sees significant icing across mainly northern parts of the state.
"We are dealing with one of the most significant icing events that we’ve had in the state of Texas in at least several decades," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during a news conference at the State Operations Center.
A winter storm that spans nearly 3,000 miles across the U.S. is producing ice and snow from Texas to New England. Bitter cold is forecast to follow it.
Abbott again expressed confidence in the state’s power grid, saying the power outages being reported right now are being primarily caused by ice-covered power lines or fallen trees. He said about 10,000 power line crews are already working to restore power, and 2,000 more crews are being brought in from outside the state to help.
This is the first real cold-weather test of the state’s grid since the February 2021 storm that left hundreds of thousands of Texans without power and water for days. More than 200 people died during the storm. Investigations found frozen natural gas lines and power generation equipment were to blame for the blackouts.
Abbott said that, unlike last year, some of the power plants that primarily rely on natural gas to generate energy have a reserve of alternative fuels that can be used if the gas supply is lost.
"If weather limits the flow of natural gas, we have several days of natural gas in storage that can be used," Abbott said.
Brad Jones, the interim CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s power grid, said that, so far, no power generation has come offline because of the cold weather.
"We have a high degree of confidence in our grid," Jones said. "We feel very comfortable in our current situation."
Jones said icing in western Texas has been less than forecast, which has allowed more wind turbines to feed power to the grid.
You can hear the ice in the trees as they rustle in the wind in Georgetown, Texas.
Abbott also signed a disaster proclamation for 17 Texas counties. He said more counties will likely be added as the storm continues its trek southeast across the state.
The governor said 127 National Guard personnel have been deployed across the state.