ERCOT Gains 84,000 Twitter Followers in Two Days as Texans Face Blackouts

The Twitter account of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) gained more than 84,000 new followers in two days this week as residents of the state were hit by widespread power outages amid deadly winter storms.

The account attracted 76,479 new followers on Wednesday and 7,653 on Thursday, according to statistics from social media tracker Social Blade. Previously the profile had been gaining under five new followers daily, the statistics suggest.

This week, followers of the @ERCOT_ISO account surged as the utility company was being criticized for its handling of state-wide power blackouts.

The profile has largely been sharing links to official statements updating its customers about when service may be restored. Since February 15, as ERCOT first announced rotating outages, each post has attracted hundreds or thousands of comments.

Many social media users interacting with the account have voiced frustration with the company, appealing for it to work faster amid freezing temperatures.

"Literally have not had power for 4 days, not even an hour, can you please get my area up this is ridiculous," wrote one Twitter user in response to an ERCOT statement on Thursday that said Texans' power restoration would continue into the evening.

Another person wrote: "Before Monday, no one knew you existed. By Friday, everyone in Texas wants you in prison. I guess there is bad publicity."

A third Twitter user added under an earlier ERCOT update on Thursday: "I haven't had power since early Monday morning. It's 40 degrees inside my house.

"We are having to conserve the gas we've been using to boil our water, pipes bursting, hospitals without electricity or water. This is not a self-congratulatory moment."

The company provides electricity to more than 26 million customers in Texas, which its website says represents about 90 percent of the state's electric load.

The state has been hit with a vast winter storm this week that resulted in temperatures dropping to 0F (-18C). Dozens of people have died, the BBC reported.

ERCOT officials claimed on Thursday the blackouts were necessary as the power grid supply had been spiraling and was "seconds and minutes" away from a total failure that could have shut off electricity for months, The Texas Tribune newspaper reported.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott told ABC13 on Wednesday ERCOT's handling of the crisis was a "total failure" and said he agreed its leadership needed to resign.

Tesla boss Elon Musk, who recently moved into the state, tweeted on Wednesday that "@ERCOT_ISO is not earning that R," seemingly referencing the word reliability. Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro has called for a "full investigation" to take place.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas
responded to our questions, but their answers are woefully inadequate.

It’s clear that @ERCOT_ISO failed to take sufficient action to prevent this crisis — and we need a full investigation, including federal oversight, for reforms.

— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) February 18, 2021

As of Thursday, more than 530,000 homes and businesses were still without power but blackouts have impacted millions of residents in recent days. Water supplies were also limited, with 13 million people urged to boil water for personal use as pipes fail.

The New York Times reported on Friday that hospitals in the state were facing "chaotic scenes" as some people sought treatment in emergency rooms. The COVID pandemic is ongoing. On Wednesday, Texas senator Ted Cruz got on a plane to Cancún.

Texas power outages
A neighborhood in Waco, Texas, is still covered in ice and snow on February 18, 2021. A deadly winter weather system that brought record-busting cold to the southern and central United States, knocking out power for millions in oil-rich Texas, blanketed the East Coast in snow, disrupting coronavirus vaccinations. MATTHEW BUSCH/AFP/Getty