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US regulators to review bulk-power operations in Texas, other states

The immediate emphasis will remain on restoring power to customers and securing the reliability of the bulk-power system.

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators say they are launching an “inquiry” into the operations of the bulk-power system during the severe winter storm that left millions without power in subfreezing temperatures in Texas and other states.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation announced the inquiry Tuesday.

Officials said the immediate emphasis will remain on restoring power to customers and securing the reliability of the bulk-power system, but they will work with other federal agencies, states, regional entities and utilities to identify problems with the performance of the bulk-power system and identify solutions. 

FERC oversees interstate electricity transmission while NERC oversees reliability standards for the continental U.S., Canada parts of Mexico.

The number of megawatts offline on Tuesday has increased substantially since Monday, presenting more potential power problems for the state, state electric officials told WFAA.

About 45,000 megawatts of electricity were offline Tuesday morning. That figure was 34,000 megawatts Monday. 

For context, one megawatt of electricity can power about 500 homes a year. ERCOT said the outages are from 70 to 80 power plants in Texas are currently offline. Statewide, there are about 680 power plants in the state.

Winterization of power plants is one thing that energy experts and elected officials say did not happen correctly. 

Read WFAA's exclusive interview with top Texas electric official about the situation.

Gov. Greg Abbott declared reforming the Electric Reliability Council of Texas "an emergency item" for this legislative session to ensure "Texans never again experience power outages on the scale they have seen over the past several days," per a statement from his office.

"Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather," Abbott said in the statement. "This is unacceptable. Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions."

RELATED: Gov. Abbott calls for emergency legislative item on ERCOT reform

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said in its Tuesday daily operations briefing that Texas officials have also requested 60 generators from the agency and the priority for their use will be hospitals and nursing homes.

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