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Live winter storm updates: Texas AG Ken Paxton says he will investigate ERCOT

Here's what's happening Wednesday as the Texas winter storms cause major problems across Dallas-Fort Worth.

State electricity officials said the number of power plants that have tripped offline is now at 185 as the energy crisis across the state has deepened.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) officials explained 46,000 megawatts of electrical generating capacity is off-line Wednesday. Tuesday, the number was 45,000MW. On Monday, it was at 34,000MW.

Gas, coal and nuclear power plants account for 28,000MW of the current amount offline. Wind and solar accounts for 18,000MW. 

For context, one megawatt of electricity can power about 200 homes a year.

There are 680 power plants across the state. About 70 to 80 were offline Tuesday, ERCOT officials previously told WFAA.

This news comes as officials have been urging Texans for days to conserve as much electricity as possible. Garland's mayor has called on all non-residential and non-essential electric customers to reduce or stop using power.

RELATED: 'Electric emergency': Map of power outages in Dallas-Fort Worth area

Temperatures remain dangerously cold as many Texans are stuck in dire situations caused by the lack of power.

A new Winter Storm Warning is in effect through 8 p.m. Wednesday. The worst of the storm hit mainly overnight into Wednesday in North Texas, bringing more inches of snow and layers of ice.

Hundreds of thousands of homes remain under a boil order following power outages at water utility facilities and losses of water pressure. Many homes have lost water service entirely. 

In addition to conserving electricity, officials with water and natural gas utilities are also asking Texans to practice conservation of those resources as power outages place additional pressure on such services.

RELATED: Texas energy crisis: Here's why officials need Texans to limit water, natural gas use as well as power

Read on for more updates from across North Texas and the state.

Key links:

Remember to download the WFAA app for the latest need-to-know weather and power updates. You can also check one of our dozens of local radars near you, the latest forecast, weather cameras and current conditions.

Here's what's happening across North Texas:

10:06 p.m.: As of 9 p.m., MedStar says it has responded to 437 calls Wednesday, which comes out to 21 an hour, much more than the typical 12-15 calls an hour, according to chief transformation officer Matt Zavadsky. That number includes:

  • 10 hypothermia calls
  • 4 suspected carbon monoxide calls
  • 12 related to power outages
  • 13 car crashes

9:50 p.m.: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a tweet Wednesday night he would use "the full scope of my Constitutional powers" to launch an investigation into ERCOT and how they have handled these outages. 

"They have left 3+ million homes w/o power for days, including my own," he tweeted.

5:58 p.m.: Daggett Montessori and Carter Riverside High School both have broken water lines, according to Fort Worth ISD. Those lines have been turned off by school district workers. West Park Elementary School had a broken sprinkler head that was turned off by the City of Benbrook, and the district has had at least 14 schools of varying grade levels without power for sustained periods.

Arlington ISD said Wednesday that at least 15 campuses have suffered flood damage caused by frozen water lines that ruptured. The areas are:

  • Annex V Administration
  • Dunn Elementary School
  • Gunn Junior High
  • Lamar High School
  • Martin High School
  • Nichols Junior High
  • Ousley Junior High
  • Pearcy STEM Academy
  • Remynse Elementary School
  • Roark Elementary School
  • Sam Houston High School
  • Seguin High School
  • Short Elementary School
  • Thornton Elementary School
  • West Elementary School

District maintenance and operations staff are working with service contractors to repair the damage, the district said.

5:52 p.m.: Thousands of people have signed a Change.org petition demanding Gov. Abbott bring in emergency services:

"Texas governor Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency 48 hours ago and still has not sent emergency services to families suffering! Low income families, where majority of the power has been cut is STILL without electricity, heat, running water, and food!" the petition reads in part.

5:23 p.m.: Dallas Council Member Adam Bazaldua just issued a news statement calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to deploy the National Guard to help with warming centers in Dallas.

"I am asking that Governor Abbott deploy the National Guard to execute warming tents and assist in alternative shelter solutions for our city," his statement reads in part. "We need more cots, more manpower, generators, tent structures and any heat sources for the next 72 hours. Our Office of Emergency Management is prepared to collaborate and accept the resources and aid, we just need action to be taken from our Governor.

"I am proud of and thankful for the resiliency shown by our city through these challenging times yet again, and I am confident that we will get through this together with help from our leaders in Austin.”

5:20 p.m.: Medical City Arlington is on temporary ER divert for ambulances, but still accepting critical ER patients.

5 p.m.:  Arlington ISD confirms 15 locations have suffered water damage – 14 schools and one administrative location. The extent of the damage is not yet known.  At this point, it’s also unclear if a potential water main break that has residents city-wide under a boil order is the cause. Or, if the damage was caused by pipes bursting. 

4:58: The City of Arlington Director of Water Utilities tells WFAA various issues caused some people to lose water or water pressure.

Craig Cummings says a series of water breaks in residents and businesses caused a huge demand on the water system.

Currently, Arlington only has one water plant operating because typically in the winter there is lower water use, but they are working on getting another plant up and running.

Meanwhile, Arlington hospitals are dealing with water issues. Texas Health Arlington Memorial brought in a fire tanker to supply water. Other hospitals in Arlington including Medical City say they supplying their patients with water bottles. They say they are continuing to work with Arlington to resolve the water supply issues.

4:03 p.m.: People are dealing with burst pipes in apartments, homes and businesses. It’s causing flooding and leaving major damage. If this happens to you, there are a few steps to take.

Credit: WFAA
  • Immediately shut off your water.
  • Cut off electricity in that area.
  • Call a plumber.
  • Take photos for an insurance claim if there is damage.
  • Mop, vacuum and dry it out to prevent mold and mildew.

RELATED: Weather impacts: Officials urging Texans to conserve water, natural gas in addition to electricity

2:53 p.m.: Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital said it was ready to treat anyone with serious medical conditions. As the city addresses its water supply issues, the hospital will provide bottled water to patients and staff. 

2:44 p.m.: Grocery stores in Arlington are quickly running out of bottled water after a water main break left families without water around noon Wednesday.  

Kroger at 5701 W Pleasant Ridge Rd is completely out.

Albertsons at 301 Southwest Plaza, supplies running low, if not gone by now

Expedient shoppers should try the nearest Dollar Tree or CVS.

Arlington ISD says all schools will be closed the remainder of this week after an email to parents saying, several are without power and some have experienced flooding from burst pipes. 

The district will assess the damage at campuses each day and alerts families if their school or class is impacted before Monday when classes are scheduled to resume.

2:33 p.m.: The Fort Worth Water Department says it’ll be late Thursday at the earliest before they know if they can lift the boil water advisory, which is affecting 212,000 customers in north Fort Worth alone. Nine other communities which receive water from Fort Worth could also be affected.

The water department is currently running tests on the safety of the drinking water, but those tests take 24 hours.

The city is currently working to get bottled water distribution sites set up, to help families who’ve been under the boil water advisory since Monday. Some families, the city says, may not have water at all.

Fort Worth is also dealing with more than 100 water main breaks since Sunday. They’re happening in the older cast iron mains. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, there had been 109 water main breaks since the storm started.

2:15 p.m.: Arlington ISD officials have confirmed to WFAA that multiple school campuses have flooded. They were not able to confirm how many or which ones but are working to get that information. 

2 p.m.: McKinney police are telling drivers to avoid the west frontage road of southbound US 75 approaching Eldorado due to "extremely icy conditions" after at least 7 vehicles have become stranded.

RELATED: Warmup timeline: Here's when North Texas will get above freezing and defrost

1:30 p.m.: The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History was partially damaged after water leaked from broken pipes and sprinklers officials said. The flood affected the Museum School, the Academy of Digital Learning Laboratory, the Museum store, parts of DinoLabs and offices at the building.

Museum staff said no collection items were harmed in the flooding that ensued but they aren't sure yet of the extent of the damage.

Anyone would like to help the museum can donate here.

1:20 p.m.: Water officials with the North Texas Municipal Water District are urging their customers to stop all non-essential water use immediately. 

NTMWD serves about 1.8 million people across 10 counties in the region. It is facing never-before-seen increases in demand at the same time it is dealing with equipment issues related to the cold weather, officials said in a news release Wednesday. 

RELATED: 1.8 million North Texas water customers asked to reduce usage as energy crisis deepens

12:45 p.m.: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a daily press briefing that the administration is monitoring the situation in Texas in coordination with FEMA, as well as others states affected by the severe winter weather.

"FEMA has supplied generators to Texas and is preparing to move diesel into the state to ensure the continued availability of backup power -- which of course is a major issue on the ground -- to key critical infrastructure, including communications, hospitals, and water," Psaki said. 

She added that FEMA is giving Texas water and blankets as well. 

12:30 p.m.: Medical City Arlington is currently facing an issue with its water supply, but does still have power, a spokesperson told WFAA.

12:15 p.m.: A line of cars forms to gas up at a Mobil station on Bruton & Masters Drive in Pleasant Grove. 

Some drivers have been reporting gasoline is becoming hard to find with some stations closing or running out of fuel.  - Demond Fernandez

12:00 p.m.: A line of shoppers stretches outside Inspired Vision Compassion Center in Pleasant Grove. 

The community food bank opened its doors, with limited staffing and volunteers, in order to make sure families have essential items as they brace the cold weather and power outages.   - Demond Fernandez

Credit: Demond Fernandez
Vision Compassion Center in Pleasant Grove

11:45 a.m.: Stephenville is asking residents to conserve water after power outages affected the city's wells and pump stations, officials said. The water system is struggling to meet demand.  

11:30 a.m.: The City of Arlington said Wednesday morning those customers who still have water should boil it before consuming any due to a recent pressure drop. The city said Arlington Water Utilities is working to restore pressure to the system.

Bring any water to a vigorous boil for at least two minutes before using it. 

11:15 a.m.: ERCOT officials said Texas "risked a catastrophic blackout at 1 a.m. Monday." 

"We had to reduce demand to get supply and demand in balance. We're working to get that back," CEO Bill Magness said.

ERCOT officials said 40% of "full, installed capacity," which are power generation plants went offline. 60% stayed online.

Winterization of these plants, while encouraged, is not mandatory. 

ERCOT officials could not give a firm estimate of when power would come back on for people, but did say they hoped to soon get back to rotating outages that only last 15 to 30 minutes in a best-case scenario. Hours-long controlled outages remain in place, however.

The earliest Texans can expect to see power restored to normal would be late today or sometime tomorrow.  

Officials said power generators had instrument lines freeze during the severe cold weather. Various elements at the facilities froze up, and there were freezeoffs in wellheads. Today, at least one generator is down because icy roads are preventing water from being brought in.

10:45 a.m.: Even though Garland has its own energy company with all its infrastructure intact and online, the city still cannot provide service to all of its customers due to ERCOT shed orders. The shed orders are requiring energy companies to give up capacity to help stabilize the state's grid, Mayor Scott LeMay told WFAA.

“Because we are part of the ERCOT system, we are unable to produce power for own residents because of shed orders issued by ERCOT,” said LeMay. “So we are in a situation where a city that owns its own power company can’t produce power for its own citizens. That is very frustrating for every one of us.”

LeMay said 46,000 residential customers were without power on Tuesday morning but that number was reduced to 15,000 by Tuesday night. However, an ERCOT shed order on Wednesday morning meant outages in the city have increased again by 8,000.

10:20 a.m.: Gov. Greg Abbott will hold a news conference at 3 p.m. to update Texans on the statewide crisis.

10:15 a.m.: Plano has joined the number of Texas cities asking residents to conserve water to essential uses only as demand has spiked. The city uses the North Texas Municipal Water District, which is seeing a great level of demand at the same time it's dealing with equipment challenges from the winter weather, officials said. Plano also said it will fine anyone using an irrigation system at this time.

The city has not yet issued a boil water order and said its water remains safe to drink.

10:10 a.m.: ERCOT load shed is currently 13,500 megawatts. There are currently around 670,000 Oncor customers without power, according to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, 194,000 of which are in his county. 

10:05 a.m.: The Irving Fire Department is warning people not to step onto iced-over ponds. The ice is not thick enough to support any substantial weight.

10 a.m.: Power outages across Texas have increased from 2.9 million earlier this morning to now more than 3.375 million homes.

That's more than the entire populations of Kansas or Iowa.

Customers without power per Oncor: 

  • Dallas County: 194,553 
  • Tarrant County: 153,513 
  • Collin County: 68,473 
  • Denton County: 21,087 
  • Ellis County: 8,419 
  • Johnson County: 5,858

RELATED: 'Electric emergency': Map of power outages in Dallas-Fort Worth area

9:20 a.m.: Fort Worth Fire responded to about 2,100 calls yesterday. A typical day would be about 350, a spokesperson said. Thirty-nine of the calls were related to carbon monoxide problems, 14 were fires, 375 automatic fire alarm calls, and 450 were related to water leaks, electrical issues, or other miscellaneous problems.

So far, the department has responded to 115 cut-off water calls Wednesday.

9:15 a.m.: Plano is urging its resident to learn how to shut their water off so they do not need to call for assistance. The city has been inundated requests to do so, officials said.

If residents are dealing with leaking or bursting pipes, officials say "the sooner the water is shut off, the less damage you may experience."

Here's a video from the city explaining how to shut your water off.

8:30 a.m.: ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said it had to increase megawatt load shed from the grid this morning to maintain the system's integrity after it lost power supply from electric providers on the eastern side of the U.S.

The loss is due to the power emergency happening in the Midwest, officials said.

8:15 a.m.: Arlington is calling on its residents to reduce their water usage to only essential purposes as the city experiences "unprecedented demand." If demand does not subside, officials say they may need to issue a boil order notice because of distribution system pressure changes. 

Officials want residents to avoid doing the laundry or running a dishwasher at this time.

8 a.m.: Garland's mayor is asking all non-residential or non-essential power customers to significantly reduce their electricity usage powering their businesses or buildings, a news release said. For now, the request is voluntary, but could become mandatory if the city does not see a "significant reduction" in power usage.

Mayor Scott LeMay is asking for the voluntary reduction to help provide that power instead to residential dwellings during this energy crisis. 

"Citizens have been dismayed to see retail and other locations that apparently have power while homes go unheated," the release from the city said. "That is largely based on geography, specifically, where those businesses are located within the city’s power grid. If located near a critical facility – like a nursing home – businesses (as well as surrounding homes) have power." 

7:20 a.m.: MedStar had another day of extremely high calls for help, officials said. They responded to 573 incidents and had 423 transports. Of those responses, 77 were hypothermia-related. Eight people were treated for suspected carbon monoxide illnesses. Twenty-nine of the calls were related to power outages and 16 were vehicle crashes. 

Crews were using an ambulance bus for low-acuity 911 calls with no acute medical issues. 

RELATED: What are the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia?

7:15 a.m.: McKinney officials are asking customers to conserve their water as the city's water supplier, the North Texas Municipal Water District is dealing with "higher than normal demands." The demand is nearly twice that of of what is typical, officials said. 

At the same time, NTMWD had equipment problems overnight, expounding the problem.

Officials are asking residents to delay doing laundry and dishes and to only take short showers while they deal with the crunch. They are still encouraging people to drip their faucets.

6:10 a.m.: TxDOT equipment like traffic cameras, digital highway signs and traffic signals are being affected by weather-related outages, officials tweeted out. They are urging drivers to use "extreme caution."

6 a.m.: ERCOT said it was able to direct utilities to restore 600,000 households Tuesday night, but 2.7 million households still don't have power. 

5:15 a.m.: Nearly 630,000 Oncor customers are without power from more than 21,000 outages. Oncor says electric officials have continued to order the power company to drop its power load using controlled outages. 

The company said it's been able to rotate some outages overnight because of lower power demands overnight, though some have not had relief from the extended outages. "Poor grid conditions" are still preventing the company from fully rolling through the outages. That's what is causing the extended periods without power for many North Texans.

Oncor believes as people wake up though and there are more demands on the grid, they may have to drop the power load again.

ERCOT has not been able to predict when the grid will stabilize, so Oncor is urging people to prepare for another round of extended outages.

Credit: Demond Fernandez
Vision Compassion Center in Pleasant Grove

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