Texas Electricity Restoration Advances

Power was restored to more homes and businesses Thursday in states hit by a winter storm that overloaded the power grid and left millions of people shaking this week. However, the crisis is far from over in parts of the south, where many people remain without clean water.

In Texas, some 325,000 homes and businesses were still without power Thursday, a far smaller number than the 3 million the day before, although power company officials said there were still potential for staggered blackouts.

The storms also left more than 320,000 homes and businesses without power in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. There were still 70,000 customers without power in eastern Kentucky, while nearly 67,000 customers were without power in West Virginia.

And more than 100,000 customers were still without power in Oregon, a week after a colossal snow and ice storm. Maria Pope, CEO of Portland General Electric, expressed confidence that, by Friday night, power will have been restored to more than 90% of customers who remain without service.

Meanwhile, snow and ice moved toward the Appalachians, northern Maryland, and southern Pennsylvania, and then northeast. Consecutive storms dumped 15 inches (38 centimeters) of snow in Little Rock, Arkansas, matching a record from 1918, the National Weather Service said.

At least 46 people were blamed for the extreme weather, some trying to warm up. In the greater Houston area, a family died of carbon monoxide inhalation due to having a running vehicle in their garage.

A woman and her three grandchildren died in a fire that authorities said could have erupted in a fireplace they were using.

Electricity companies from Minnesota to Texas applied staggered blackouts to reduce electrical surges on the networks. Southwest Power Pool, a group of companies serving 14 states from the Dakotas to North Texas, said staggered blackouts were no longer necessary, but asked users to save power until at least Saturday night.

The remaining power outages in Texas were primarily due to the weather, and not forced blackouts, according to statewide network administrator ERCOT. Dan Woodfin, director of System Operations at ERCOT, said the staggered blackouts could resume if electricity usage increases as people get their lights back on and turn on their heat, although they wouldn’t be as long as this week.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned that state residents “are not out of the woods yet” due to freezing temperatures and the threat of a winter storm in the south-central region of the state.