The severe weather conditions experienced in Texas at the beginning of 2021 as a result of the cold wave had far-reaching implications. One was the strain it exerted on the state’s power grid, which has not been winterized.
Because the electricity generating equipment in Texas had not been hardened against the extreme weather conditions, it was incapable of producing enough power to meet the state’s needs. Production of natural gas was also affected by the power shortage, further exacerbating the problem.
With the state’s power generation operating at half its normal capacity at one point, Texans were forced to endure cold, dark nights. If you live in this part of the States, you will have had to get used to the inconvenience power blackouts cause. Stumbling around with your smartphone torch as your only source of light. Helplessly watching as your phone battery dies, rendering you unreachable.
When The Lights Go Out
Major grid failures happen in different parts of the country and the world more often than you think. Texas is not unique in this regard. Localities depending on hydroelectric power are vulnerable to outages when water levels in reservoir dams dwindle as a result of drought. Hurricanes, floods and other natural calamities can damage power lines, transformers and other equipment, causing power supply interruptions.
To a significant degree, outages happen when measures have not been taken to harden the grid against harsh climatic conditions. This was the case in Texas. As a result of the fallen electricity generation capacity, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) ordered a reduction in power consumption by utilities. This meant that the natural gas supply was throttled, further hampering power production.
Following the historic power outage, Texas legislators made laws to make regulators demand better disaster preparedness from power generators. Though improvements have been made, the Texan grid is still not completely weatherproof. As record temperatures are witnessed in Wichita Falls and other parts of the state, ERCOT is concerned.
The Council recently issued an advisory urging residents to try to conserve energy as pressure on the grid increases. They say this is more of a precautionary measure and that the grid can handle the demand. But it is incumbent upon you to do your part as a responsible Texan.
Surviving Without Power
Having witnessed the grid’s vulnerability, you are well advised to take steps to help you and your loved ones survive without electricity. If you would rather not do without power, you could begin saving for a solar power system or power generator. A UPS system to give your computer a few more hours of juice is a good idea if you work from home.
If investment in alternative power is not an option, here are some measures you can take to power through, pardon the pun.
- Invest in alternative light sources- candles, battery-powered, rechargeable or solar-powered torches.
- To remain reachable on the phone (plus be able to use your smartphone torch), ensure your home has one or two power banks that are constantly charged. Having a juiced-up phone can also help keep you entertained during those long hours in the dark.
- When the outage actually takes place, make sure you report it to your provider as soon as possible. Don’t assume that someone must have made the call just because the entire neighborhood is in the dark.
- Stock up on emergency supplies. Preparedness experts recommend that you have at least one gallon of water for each household member in reserve. You should also have enough non-perishable food in store to last the family at least three days.
- It is also important to secure your home to ensure it is not a soft target for scavengers. Besides providing robust locks and an alarm system for your home, you also need to secure your car. Comprehensive car insurance coverage in Texas will ensure that you are reimbursed not just in the event of a collision but also in the event your car is stolen.
- If your power supply should be interrupted for days on end during winter, you will probably have to relocate. Do you have a place you can take your family to shack up in the event of such an emergency? Make plans to have at least two places you can shelter in and let the owners know as much.
3-Step Emergency Power Outage Plan
In a nutshell, preparing for expected or unexpected power blackouts in Texas will entail three steps. First, ensure you have alternative light sources and stock up on emergency food and water supplies. Next, provide enough security to keep your belongings safe. Lastly, have an emergency location you can escape to during extended power outages in extreme weather.