Storm Crisis : Texas water supply, electric bills, FEMA for repairs

power outage blackout texas

Texas power grids and the utility companies operating experienced a substantial reduction in energy production capacity, downed electrical infrastructure, and a surge in demand due to the winter storm that swept across the state. Scroll (or swipe) down to find out where to get clean drinking water, how to apply for FEMA assistance to repair damaged property, and the plans to help Texans deal with skyrocketing electric bills.

Where can I get clean drinking water? : Find the nearest water station

If your like many Texans at this time and need to get clean water, check out the informative NBC DFW News 5 "Need Water ?" source and find the nearest location to get free, clean drinking water.

How to receive assistance for damaged property : FEMA

FEMA has implemented the Disaster Assistance application process for residents of 108 Texas counties, as of February 20th (adding an additional 31 counties to the original 77 on February 23rd).

The FEMA Disaster assistance may include:
 financial assistance for temporary lodging and home repairs
 low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses
 other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster

Outrageous energy bills : Some variable rate plans at the worst possible time

Many providers offer variable rate electric plans that have the general rule of varying alongside the price of wholesale energy.

The price of wholesale energy is determined by energy supply and demand. The circumstance that Texas experienced created the unfortunate natural "supply scarcity", high demand market scenario that activated the low system-wide offer cap price (LCAP) at 50 times the price of natural gas - and since natural gas is currently at exceptionally high prices, this LCAP price would calculate an energy price that exceeds the HCAP (high system-wide offer cap price).

On February 16, 2021, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas ordered ERCOT to temporarily suspend this LCAP price rule given the extraordinary impact this winter storm had on Texas' natural gas production & demand, and maintain the HCAP ($9,000/mWh) as the system-wide offer cap energy price until after the PUCT's next open meeting. In effect, preventing energy rates from being even higher than the high cap of $9,000/mWh.

Protection against skyrocketing energy bills, disconnections : Federal and State assistance

In an emergency meeting held by Governor Greg Abbott on Feb 20th, plans were discussed on:
 how to alleviate the financial burden being put on Texans that received debt-inducing energy bills
 how to ensure that Texans are given long-term protections from events and their subsequent fallout, like the 2021 winter storm

Governor Abbott has also requested federal assistance from the White House to prevent Texans from their financially crippling energy bills that resulted from the temporary massive spike in energy prices.

The Public Utilities Commission of Texas issued orders on Feb 21st to protect Texans during the aftermath of the winter storm, specifically:
 Immediately and indefinitely suspending disconnections for non-payment, which include ordering utility companies not to process disconnections
 Emphasized the continuation of the COVID-19 measure that requires electric providers to offer deferred payment plans to customers that request them
 Calling on ERCOT to not engage protocol deadlines/timing that relate to settlements, collateral obligations, and invoice payments

This last order by the PUCT towards ERCOT was especially given the timeline of "while leaders in the state consider solutions to the financial challenges caused by the grid event".

What happened across Texas during the winter storm?

Power outages: Utility companies (TDUs/TDSPs) - Oncor Electric Delivery, CenterPoint Energy, AEP Texas (North & Central), TNMP, SWEPCO, and Entergy - that operate on ERCOT/SPP/MISO: Most of the damaged electrical equipment (power lines, transformers, turbines) are back up and running -
Rolling blackouts: Power generation became critical when extreme weather impacted energy production facilities (SPP, MISO, and ERCOT) and crossed with a surge in energy consumption when temperatures plummeted (this "tripped" many energy generating units to go "offline" and ceased energy production).

Stay warm and safe:

 Many local counties have opened warming stations or shelters - locate the nearest station online or by calling 2-1-1
 In the event of a medical emergency, seek immediate assistance by dialing 9-1-1

Stay up-to-date:

 Residents on Oncor/CenterPoint/AEP Texas/TNMP service areas: Watch for ERCOT's news releases for status updates (this will provide the first official prompt as to when power generation is coming back "online" and stably)
 Residents on Xcel Energy and SWEPCO service areas: Watch for SPP's current grid conditions for status updates (this will provide the first official prompt as to when power generation is coming back "online" and stably)
 Residents on Entergy service areas: Watch for Entergy's current MISO grid conditions for status updates (this will provide the first official prompt as to when power generation is coming back "online" and stably)    
 The comprehensive Public Utilities Commission of Texas Winter Storm resource page offers road closure info, TDU/TDSP contact, flood safety info, weather updates
 Stay informed (as best as TDUs/TDSPs can keep up): [Check out the complete TDU/TDSP list with power outage maps and power outage contact numbers on our "Who to Call in a Power Outage" page]

To report additional electrical infrastructure damage:

 Check out Selectra's "Who to Call" power outage info page to ensure the correct utility company is contacted
 Use the following outage reporting numbers (below) or report online on the TDU/TDSP outage maps (above):

  • Oncor Electric Delivery: 1-888-313-4747
  • CenterPoint Energy: 1-800-332-7143
  • AEP Texas (North & Central): 1-866-223-8508
  • TNMP: 1-888-866-7456
  • Xcel Energy: 1-800-895-1999
  • Entergy: 1-800-968-8243
  • SWEPCO: 1-888-218-3919

Please continue to take care and let us know if we may be able to assist further with any additional information!
[email protected]

Selectra LLC is an energy broker in Texas with the mission to bring transparency to consumers on the retail energy market, and strives to find the "best" electric provider and plan that suits their needs and preferences (whether it's a provider we work with or not).

Updated on