Texas Power Plants Get Emergency Clearance to Crank Up Output

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The Department of Energy issued an emergency order allowing several Texas power plants to produce as much electricity as possible, a move expected to violate anti-pollution rules that comes amid a deepening electricity crisis in the state that has cut power to millions of homes.

The Energy Department order, requested by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, authorizes power plants throughout the state to run a maximum output levels, even as such a move is anticipated to result in a violation of limits of pollution.

The order comes as millions of Texas households suffer rolling blackouts for the first time in a decade as an unprecedented Arctic freeze sends temperatures plummeting across much of the U.S. Large swaths of Dallas, Houston and other cities are being plunged into darkness for an hour at a time -- and in some cases longer -- as surging demand for heat pushes the power grid to the brink. Outages are expected to continue into early Tuesday, grid operators said during a briefing Monday.

“This weather event is expected to result in record winter electricity demand that will exceed even ERCOT’s most extreme seasonal load forecasts,” said the order, which was signed by acting Energy Secretary David Huizenga late Sunday night, referring to the council.

The Energy Department issued a similar order to address blackouts in California last year.

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