As Texas Suffers Power Outage, Photos of Downtown Houston Lit Up Anger Locals

Texans have expressed their frustration at seeing skyscrapers in the state's major cities lit up while millions of homes remain without power.

According to Power Outage US, more than four million energy customers in Texas are without power, as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is rotating controlled outages.

Around 1.3 million CenterPoint Energy customers are facing outages, while 1.2 million Oncor customers are without power.

But Houston's residents have taken to Twitter to share images of the city's skyline with its lights on, surrounded by residential areas in darkness.

Twitter user @HTownTigah shared a photo of Houston's skyline lit up while houses in the foreground of the image appear to be largely in the dark and said: "Considering Dallas and Ft Worth shut off the lights in their downtown to conserve energy, an empty Downtown Houston must look great at a distance from many areas (over 50 percent of the city) which are blacked out. Do Better Bayou City."

Considering Dallas and Ft Worth shut off the lights in their downtown to conserve energy, an empty Downtown Houston must look great at a distance from many areas(over 50% of the city) which are blacked out. Do Better Bayou City. #Houston #texaspoweroutage #Texaswx pic.twitter.com/Xl2Jkgooug

— Space City Bro (@HtownTigah) February 16, 2021

Anna Veselova said on Twitter: "Ok so we lowered our a/c and kept the minimum usage of electricity all day long because we feel so lucky to have it! But why downtown Houston empty office buildings lit up like nothing is happening?"

Ok so we lowered our a/c and kept the minimum usage of electricity all day long because we feel so lucky to have it! But why downtown Houston empty office buildings lit up like nothing is happening? pic.twitter.com/mQ1Vbw6uZB

— anna veselova (@bravolesfilles) February 16, 2021

In response to the blackouts in Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner explained: "ERCOT is the traffic manager of the electric grid which reports to the State. Neither the City nor the County controls or regulates ERCOT or the power generators. That is solely the responsibility of the State."

ERCOT is the traffic manager of the electric grid which reports to the State. Neither the City nor the County controls or regulates ERCOT or the power generators. That is solely the responsibility of the State. st

— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 15, 2021

On the other hand, Dallas' skyline was lit up with red and pink for Valentine's Day, but in response to the power outages facing the state, a non-profit advocacy group for Downtown Dallas has called for buildings to turn off their lights.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, said on Twitter on Monday: "Thank you to our partners at @DtownDallasInc for requesting that our downtown buildings turn off their external lights tonight. I love our skyline at night, but we all need to do our parts to conserve energy."

The Reunion Tower was among the buildings that said it would switch its external building lights and non-essential electrical equipment off to conserve electricity.

While certain buildings, like Reunion Tower, have chosen to turn off their non-essential lights, some people may be wondering why downtown buildings, especially office buildings, have access to power while some residential areas are facing outages.

Although cities and counties do not control the power outages, energy companies choose where to rotate the power outages, meaning that an outage status can differ from one street to the next.

Oncor explains on its website that: "In many instances, your neighbor may have electric service when you don't because their home is on a different set of lines or circuit."

Additionally, a reason why some buildings may appear to have power while others face a blackout is that they share the same grid as essential services, like hospitals.

Oncor explained in a news release on Monday that they are "using all designated power lines for controlled outages so that hospitals and other critical infrastructure remains intact and system stability is preserved.

"This means that customers near critical facilities, or those in limited areas where rolling outages won't take place in order to maintain grid stability, may not experience outages, while those farther from these facilities or areas may be out multiple times or for longer instances."

Downtown Houston
The skyline of Houston at night seen from the Bank of America Center in Houston, Texas. James Leynse/Corbis/Getty