The arctic freeze across the central U.S. is raising the specter of power outages in Texas and putting pressure on energy prices.
In Texas, where temperatures in Dallas are forecast to be 3 degrees Fahrenheit Monday (minus 16 Celsius), the operator of the state’s power grid warned it may need to resort to rolling blackouts as surging demand for heat strains the electrical system.
While outages may also occur Sunday, the risk is higher on Monday and Tuesday, when power demand in Texas may reach a record high, officials said.
“We could be in emergency operations as early as tonight,” said Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the grid. “We would expect to be in emergency operations tomorrow through at least Tuesday morning.”
Spot prices for electricity in Texas are expected to hit the grid’s cap of $9,000 per megawatt hour. Natural gas rose to a record $600 per million British thermal units in Oklahoma. And as much as half a million barrels a day of oil output in West Texas may be impacted by well shutdowns that began on Thursday.
About 800 daily records for cold temperatures have been set in the past week as Arctic air pushes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.