Bone-chilling cold testing power grids


FILE PHOTO: A general view of electric lines in Houston, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2023. REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare/File Photo

LOS ANGELES: An Arctic blast that’s sweeping through North America is heightening the risk of blackouts.

With more cold still in the forecast, electric grids from Texas to Alberta will continue to be under strain.

In Texas, which is facing one of its biggest grid tests since deadly winter blackouts in 2021, power demand on Sunday from homes and businesses is expected to hit a winter record of more than 78 gigawatts – and then later in the week possibly set an all-time record.

Still, state officials have said they aren’t anticipating a grid emergency.

In Washington State and Alberta – where more than one million people saw Calgary temperatures at noon local time below minus 29 degrees Celsius – utilities and grid operators have been making pleas for consumers to conserve energy.

Already, more than 300,000 US homes and businesses were without power Sunday, with outages concentrated in Oregon, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to PowerOutage.us, a website that tracks utility outages.

In Texas, there were more than 15,000 customers without power as of 1.52pm Dallas time. Cold can hobble electric grids in two ways. The teeth-chattering temperatures prompt people to crank up their heat, sparking a demand surge. — Bloomberg

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