Blackouts due to a winter storm in the state of Texas, the most severe in 30 years, are leaving millions of people without power in the United States and Mexico.
Some regions have registered temperatures of up to -18°C since last sunday.
The cold has left at least four dead in Texas and power outages that have affected 4 million people, both in that state and in neighboring states.
Furthermore, almost half of Mexico also faces problems of supply of energy.
The domino effect in Mexico
The lack of natural gas that Mexico imports from Texas to power generating plants has caused a domino effect in electricity service.
Monday, almost 5 million customers of the government company Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in the states of Nuevo León, Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua, bordering Texas, I know they were left without electricity.
79% of the service was restored at the end of the day, but the lack of power ended up affecting the rest of the country in the following hours.
This Tuesday the National Center for Energy Control (Cenace) -which regulates the CFE and private companies- reported that between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. “rotating and random load outages” in the north, center and west of the country.
The 12 affected states are among the most populated in the country: Aguascalientes, Colima, the State of Mexico, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas.
“The possible rotary load cuts that Cenace will carry out will be scheduled from 15 to 30 minutes, with the purpose of maintaining the continuity and reliability of the National Electric System, “said the agency.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Monday attributed the problem to the Texas winter storm, which, in addition to affecting gas supply lines, also has raised the price of this fuel.
According to the CFE, the price of natural gas increased 5,000%, going from US $ 3 per unit of volume to more than US $ 200. “And in some places of the American Union up to US $ 600”, indicated the state company.
“With its gas reserves, the CFE is injecting gas into strategic support plants in Chihuahua and Nuevo León to avoid further damage,” the company reported.
This is the second massive blackout the country has suffered in the last two months.
López Obrador assured that a failure of this level would not happen again, after at the end of December 10.3 million users will stayan without light because private renewable energy plants suffered “intermittent” failures, according to the CFE.
The president has promised to “rescue” state infrastructure, which he believes was “looted” in past governments.
Why the bad weather?
According to the US National Weather Service (NWS), the winter storm that affects Texas and other southern states is a consequence of an “arctic outbreak” coming from the US-Canada border region, which brings snow and the descent of temperatures.
Outbreaks of cold air like these typically linger in the Arctic due to a number of low-pressure systems, the NWS said. However, it moved through Canada and spread to the United States last week.
The temperatures in the city of Dallas, for example, reached a maximum of -10 ° C andl Monday. Normal at this time of year is 15 ° C.
In a statement Sunday night, President Joe Biden stated the emergency in Texas, which authorizes public agencies to coordinate disaster relief.
The state’s power grid operator, Ercot, applied rotating power outages early this Monday to reduce demand in the system.
Poor conditions forced the Motiva refinery, the largest in Texas, to suspend operations.
Hundreds of flights were also canceled.
Atime you can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.