ERCOT suspends rolling outages, but CPS Energy customers without power may not see relief for days

Forced outages may return if ‘we can’t keep this situation under control,’ CPS Energy’s Paula Gold-Williams says

SAN ANTONIO – The number of CPS Energy customers affected by power outages has dropped significantly overnight, as ERCOT ended the statewide rolling outage strategy, but the city’s energy chief says “we are not out of the woods.”

CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold-Williams said about 10,000 customers are still without power as of Thursday morning, down from more than 200,000 customers who went without power throughout the week as the wintry weather devastated San Antonio.

Gold-Williams updated the public and the media during a briefing and Q&A session on Thursday morning as another round of snow fell in the area.

The numbers have been leveling, she said, since the Energy Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, has suspended mandated outages to preserve the wider grid.

“There has been improvement in San Antonio’s energy status and landscape overnight,” she said. “The capacity of generation safely exceeds the demand.”

ERCOT officials said they were able to get several sources of power generation back online throughout the day Wednesday, allowing them to lift the controlled outages. However, officials cautioned that the outages may have to be put in place again Thursday night if the demand exceeds supply again, when temperatures will drop.

“We could have to reimplement rotating outages on a limited basis,” ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin said.

Customers who are still without power could not see relief for “a long time,” possibly until Monday, due to equipment failure, Gold-Williams said.

The outage management process has involved more blown fuses than usual, causing a delay in restoration, she told council members in a special session Wednesday afternoon.

“That stuff is normal outage management that we know how to do… but it’s still going to be a challenge” due to the possibility of icy conditions, she said.

Under normal conditions, she said, those equipment failures could have been fixed by the end of Thursday.

She added that CPS Energy employees have also experienced outages, and crews have been stranded trying to reach customers.

Due to conservation efforts, she said San Antonio’s demand has dropped to about 4,200 megawatts, which is down from about 5,500 MW seen during the week.

CPS Energy’s capacity is 7,000 MW, and a typical summer peak for demand is about 5,100 MW.

With fewer power plants open at this time due to typically less demand, there were problems with every energy source, she previously said.

Leaders stressed additional energy conservation efforts from residents and businesses with more wintry weather on Thursday.

“It is a possibility that we can go back to forced outages if we can’t keep this situation under control around the state,” she said, adding that residents should turn off unnecessary appliances, lights or other items.

Areas near San Antonio could see an additional 1 to 2 inches of snow on Thursday, and temperatures will struggle to get much above freezing.

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Rebecca Salinas has worked in digital news for more than 10 years and joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.