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ERCOT Cancels Energy Emergency & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – The Texas council that oversees the state's power grids says valves, pipes and monitors at power plants statewide froze, causing emergency rolling outages on some of the coldest days of the year.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas cancelled the emergency procedures on Thursday after more than half of the 8,000 megawatts of electricity lost Wednesday were recovered.

However, ERCOT called for residents to continue conserving power as 3,000 megawatts remain offline while frigid temperatures and the threat of ice and snowstorms linger over Houston and Southeast Texas.

ERCOT's CEO Trip Doggett says the equipment that froze and burst should have been insulated before the winter as part of the power plant's preparation for the cold months. It remains unclear whether that happened in all cases.

Parents, advocates deplore cuts for the disabled

Parents and advocates for the disabled wore rain ponchos while testifying before state senators on Thursday, demanding they spend the Rainy Day Fund to maintain state services.

Witnesses said the recession is exactly the situation the state had in mind when it set up the fund, which will soon be worth $9.4 billion. Texas lawmakers have $15 billion less to spend than they did in the last budget. Experts say the state is short $27 billion for maintaining current services.

The draft budget proposes closing two state facilities that house the most seriously disabled and cut funding for programs that allow many to receive support at home.

Parents called on the Senate Finance Committee to preserve the current funding. Conservative lawmakers say the state must live within its current revenues.

Texas lawmaker wants school electric rate cuts

A legislator seeks to discount electricity rates for Texas school districts by 20 percent to save money and help avoid teacher layoffs.

The bill was filed Wednesday by state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth. It came on a day when schools in her district were closed due to an ice storm that led to some controlled power outages to conserve electricity.

Texas lawmakers face a projected $15 billion shortfall in the next two-year budget period.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports state colleges and universities currently get the base electric rate break.