U.S. Power Crisis Leaves Millions Cold, Dark as Blackouts Expand

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Contributed date

February 16, 2021 - 12:13pm

Critical Commentary

This article discusses the power crises occurring in the United States due to the overlapping slow disasters of climate change and COVID-19, revealing inadequacies in energy infrastructure (e.g. electrical grids, power plants) which are overwhelmed by energy demands in areas experiencing extreme cold temperatures, such as in Texas. Utilities are asking customers to turn down their thermostats and to reduce their energy usage to avoid overwhelmed power grids and subsequent power outages, however vulnerable residents are relying on comfortable home temperatures to maintain their health during the winter crisis, and are unable to shelter elsewhere due to COVID-19. Additionally, individuals are relying on their home energy systems to school and work remotely amidst COVID-19. The consequences of not conserving energy at this time are unfortunately even more detrimental as mass power outages have already begun, leaving thousands of households experiencing varying degrees of energy vulnerability are left in the dark and cold. As electricity demand rises and grids rely more on wind and solar power, where supply oscillates with the weather, networks will have to increase access to back-up generation. In Texas, where both wind and gas-fired generation was hit by the cold snap, there wasn’t enough reserve power to keep the lights on. Power plants with a combined capacity of more than 34 gigawatts were forced offline on Monday, including nuclear reactors, coal and gas generators and wind farms. It’s not yet clear why. At times, parts of Texas were colder than Alaska, according to the National Weather Service. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Houston may pick up as much as 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow overnight, along with ice and sleet, the National Weather Service said. It will get hit by another storm bringing ice and freezing rain Wednesday.


Bloomberg News

Group Audience

Cite as

Brian K Sullivan and Naureen S Malik, "U.S. Power Crisis Leaves Millions Cold, Dark as Blackouts Expand", contributed by Morgan Sarao, The Energy Rights Project, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 16 February 2021, accessed 27 May 2024. https://energyrights.info/content/us-power-crisis-leaves-millions-cold-dark-blackouts-expand