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Four Huge Power-Plant Upsets Pushed Texas to Brink of Blackouts

  • As heatwave spread, fragile electricity infrastructure exposed
  • Enough power to light 2.4 million homes was down at one point
Children play on a splash pad during a heatwave in Houston.
Children play on a splash pad during a heatwave in Houston.Photographer: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg

The nearly simultaneous shutdown of four gigantic power plants in Texas -- capable of powering almost 1 million homes -- drove the region to the brink of yet another energy crisis this week as temperatures soared, according to data analyzed by Bloomberg.

All told, generators across the second-largest U.S. state were either down for repairs or running at reduced capacity when triple-digit heat was baking Texas, according to data compiled by Wood Mackenzie Ltd.’s Genscape unit. But the biggest impacts came from just a handful of facilities: a Vistra Corp.-owned 1.15-gigawatt nuclear reactor, and three other giant facilities owned by Talen Energy Corp. and NRG Energy Inc.