When will Texans get their power back? Officials don’t know.

Power lines along a row of homes in South Austin. Many residents experienced power outages due to the winter storm that rolled through Texas.                    Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune
Power lines along a row of homes in South Austin. Many residents experienced power outages due to the winter storm that rolled through Texas. Credit: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

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Officials with the state's energy grid operator said Tuesday it is still struggling with balancing supply and demand to the Texas power grid — and could not project when long-lasting outages would end as a winter storm caused millions of residents to lose power.

"The biggest variable that makes it difficult to give you a certain answer — we're relying on ability to get that supply and demand in balance," Bill Magness, president and CEO of Electric Reliability Council of Texas, told reporters during an online news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Magness said that while ERCOT was working to restore power to residents — many of whom had been without it for multiple hours or longer as temperatures remained well below freezing — it was also aiming to avoid a complete shutdown of the grid, which is used by roughly 90% of the state.

"Over the next couple of days," he said, "I think we see really good signs of progress even though we have much work to do."

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott declared "ERCOT reform" an emergency item for the 2021 legislative session, saying that it "has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours." Abbott making the issue a top priority means the Legislature can approve bills related to the subject during the first 60 days of the session, which began Jan. 12. Hearings in both the House and Senate are already scheduled on the issue in the coming weeks, according to leaders in the two chambers.

This story is developing. Check back for more updates.