The state’s major grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), asked the state's utilities and transmission providers to implement rolling blackouts to maintain the integrity of the state’s power grid, which is struggling under extreme cold weather conditions.
In a statement, Gov. Rick Perry said the weather has created "unprecedented demand on the state's energy grid."
“Texas power and emergency management experts are working very closely with ERCOT and various utility providers to ensure power is restored as quickly as possible," Perry said. "Until that happens, I urge businesses and residents to conserve electricity to minimize the impact of this event.”
Retiring Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, a candidate for U.S. Senate and Arlington resident, used the event to tweet his thoughts on energy policy.
"This cold front has created HUGE statewide demand for natural gas supplies for electricity and heat. More evidence for drilling," he tweeted today.
A few minutes later, he added, "Look outside. How much electricity would be generated from wind and solar today?"
State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, has a long history dealing with ERCOT. The former chair of the House Regulated Industries Committee, played a role in deregulating the state's electricity market and also worked in previous sessions on legislation increasing the state's oversight of the grid operator.
When emailed about today's blackouts, King said that state lawmakers will need to review the state's response.
"The system for rolling blackouts is working. Beyond that we will have to look back and see what led to this. Was it a system issue or the power supply equivalent of a 500 year flood?" King wrote.
[Photo: Riders sit and stand in a DART red line train stranded at the Cityplace station in Dallas on Wednesday morning Feb 2, 2011. Rolling blackouts caused by the weather brought the rail system to a crawl, with long stops at most stations. Special to the Star-Telegram/Chris Wilkins]