U.S power crisis leaves millions cold, dark as blackouts expand

The energy crisis crippling power grids across the U.S. showed no sign of abating on Tuesday morning as blackouts left almost 5 million customers without electricity during unprecedented cold weather.

To prevent the collapse of their networks, suppliers from North Dakota to Texas are having to institute rolling power cuts for the second consecutive day to limit demand. The severe shortages are likely to continue throughout Tuesday, and the deep freeze is forecast to remain until Wednesday at least.

Officials have reported two people dead, likely from cold, according to the Associated Press. Medical centers are rushing to administer vaccines before they go bad. Flights are grounded. More than a million barrels a day of oil and 10 billion cubic feet of gas production are shut and massive refineries have halted gasoline and diesel output.

The Southwest Power Pool, which controls a grid spanning 14 states from North Dakota to Oklahoma, ordered rotating outages for a second consecutive day. President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Texas, making more resources available to help.

Read More: How Extreme Cold Turned Into a U.S. Energy Crisis: QuickTake

“I’ve been following energy markets and grid issues for a while, and I cannot recall an extreme weather event that impacted such a large swath of the nation in this manner — the situation is critical,” said Neil Chatterjee, a member of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The cold blast is just the latest in a chain of severe weather events that have shaken power grids and upended energy markets globally from Japan to France in recent months. They’ve all underscored how vulnerable the world has become in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather brought on by climate change and it’s raising questions about the global push to electrify everything from transportation to heating and cooling.

Almost 4 million homes and businesses were without power across Texas on Tuesday, based on utility outage data compiled by Poweroutage.us. Another 400,000 were down in a swathe of states stretching from Louisiana to Ohio and Virginia. Almost 250,000 were without power in Oregon.

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