'Things will likely get worse': Cold disrupts power in Texas

A woman walks through falling snow in San Antonio Sunday

The operator of Texas' electrical grid said it began conducting rolling blackouts Monday after the near-statewide storm led to unprecedented electrical demand and forced power-generating plants offline.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) sought to cut power use in response to a winter record of 69,150 MW on Sunday evening, more than 3,200 MW higher than the previous winter peak in January 2018.

Power grid operator Southwest Power Pool, which coordinates electricity supply across a vast swath of the country, on Monday declared an "Energy Emergency Alert Level 2" due to energy shortages. This emergency procedure would be taken to avoid a sustained large-scale outage and prevent long-term damage to the electric system.

These are the first rolling blackouts caused by cold weather since 2011 in Texas. LNG exports from the USA also plummeted after the freeze shut ports and wells, and oil production also took a hit, with Permian oil production plunging by as much as one million barrels a day.

First responders cleanup after a massive pileup on I-35W Thursday Feb. 11 2021 near downtown Fort Worth Texas

Parts of Texas were colder than Alaska, according to the National Weather Service.

Average spot power across the Texas grid hit the state's $9,000 per megawatt-hour price cap again on Monday.Liquefied natural gas exports from the US plummeted after the freeze shut ports and wells.West Texas Intermediate futures rose by as much as 2.5%, above $60 a barrel for the first time in more than a year.Physical natural gas prices have swung anywhere between $50 to the high of $600 per million British thermal units. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

As of 8 a.m. ET Monday, more than 2 million customers in Texas and about 25,000 in Louisiana had no electricity.

"This impressive onslaught of wicked wintry weather across much of the Lower 48 is due to the combination of strong Arctic high pressure supplying sub-freezing temperatures and an active storm track escorting waves of precipitation from coast-to-coast".