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Power outage in Texas City leaves nearly 20,000 customers in the dark, forces plants to flare, officials say

It's unknown what caused the power outage. Texas-New Mexico Power said it hopes to have all power restored by 3 a.m.

TEXAS CITY, Texas — On one of the coldest nights of the year, nearly 20,000 people were left without power in Texas City.

At 8 p.m., around the time the lights went out, it was 34 degrees.

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Officials said about 20,000 Texas-New Mexico Power customers, which accounts for about 14% of Galveston County customers, lost power on Friday night. It's unknown what caused the outage.

By 10 p.m., about half of the customers got power back, according to TNMP.

"Our team is looking into what caused equipment to fail and trigger the outage," TNMP said in a statement. "We recognize it's a chilly evening for customers and we're getting everyone back on as quickly as we can while working safely."

The Texas City Police Department said there was no refinery fire. The large power outage caused plants to flare in order to burn off product.

The Texas City Office of Emergency Management said it was trying to get a timetable for when the power might come back on. Officials said no injuries have been reported and there was no plant explosion.

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Texas-New Mexico Power said it was investigating the outage and hoped to have power restored to everyone by 3 a.m. Saturday.

At 8:05 p.m. Friday, the Texas City OEM said power had started to come back on but it comes back online in stages.

Nearby, La Marque city officials said some residents could be impacted. They said crews were working to restore power.

The Energy Reliability Council of Texas issued the following statement about the outages:

"We are aware of an outage issue involving a Texas New Mexico Power (TNMP)  transmission line.  We are talking with TNMP and offering any assistance we can provide.  This transmission outage does not impact overall grid reliability."

The basketball game between Galveston Ball and Texas City was cut short tonight when the school lost power. There was only a minute left with Texas City leading by four. The game is set to resume tomorrow morning if the power is restored.

What is flaring?

Flaring is a process that removes dangerous gasses with minimal harm to the environment. It's used in regulating pressure in chemical plants and also handling natural gas release in wells.

At industrial plants, flare stacks are usually used for burning off flammable gas released by safety valves during unplanned events. Flaring is also used for the planned combustion of gasses in short periods of time during startups and shutdowns.

Dangers on the road

TxDOT said drivers in the area should be careful because signals are out. Motorists should treat each intersection as a four-way stop.

No community threat

Texas City Emergency Management said there are no immediate threats to the community.

Credit: Texas City Emergency Management

Galveston County

The Galveston County Office of Emergency Management said there was no threat to the community and it was monitoring the situation.

Viewer video

A video showed some flashing lights by the plants:

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