Natural gas supply, electricity continue to be heavily constrained


WEST TEXAS – Historically cold temperatures have led to unprecedented energy demand, but suppliers struggles with supply and delivery have limited the amount of natural gas and electricity the Atmos Energy and ERCOT can deliver to its customers respectively.

Energy providers continue to stress the importance that all residents and businesses continue to be vigilant in conservation efforts.

Atmos Energy warns customers that the natural gas supply constraints may lead to service outages for some. If service is interrupted, restoration may take an extended period of time. Once supply is restored, Atmos Energy technicians will need to visit each home to safely restore gas service.

All residents and businesses are asked to help by lowering the thermostat to 68 degrees or less and setting the water heater temperature to 120 degrees.

Furthermore, those who experience an electrical outage may turn off the furnace. One of the easiest ways may be to turn it off at the thermostat. Then, after the power comes back on, wait 10 to 15 minutes before restarting the furnace. This may help the natural gas system adjust to a sudden increase in usage.

Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas as of Wednesday still say there is not enough power being generated to end rolling blackouts and fully restore power to millions of Texans.

The best-case scenario is that outages will be reduced to no more than 30 minutes to an hour. Some residents of Martin County were without power for over 30 continuous hours.

“We’re unable to give any real specifics because of the variables we’ve identified around the resources and the weather,” ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said. “We’re optimistic we’ll see some today as we see some warming trend … and get it down to a level where even if we’re not finished, at least you can see the rotation of the outages, so that the people who’ve been without power for so long can get some relief.”

There were just over 50 customers without power in Martin County as of noon Wednesday, according to Oncor’s outage tracker.

Stories have been swirling that frozen wind turbines are the main culprit for Texas’ power outages

ERCOT officials reported the lost wind power is just a fraction of winter generation. All sources — from natural gas, to nuclear, to coal, to solar — have struggled to generate power during the winter storm.

ERCOT projected that 80% of the grid’s winter capacity, or 67 gigawatts, could be generated by natural gas, coal and some nuclear power.

On Wednesday afternoon, 18 gigawatts of renewable energy generation were offline and 28 gigawatts had been lost from thermal sources, which includes gas, coal and nuclear energy.

The system hardest hit and producing significantly less power is the natural gas system.