Bill Magness, chairman of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), said the state grid was seconds away from a total failure on Monday morning.
In an interview with the Texas Tribune he assured that this did not happen because of quick action by operators to begin controlled outages across the state.
“It needed to be addressed immediately. It was seconds and minutes of a possible failure, given the amount of generation that was leaving the system,” he said.
He indicated that had the failure occurred, blackouts could have lasted for months.
“The operators took those actions to avoid a catastrophic blackout and much worse damage to our system. That was, I would say, the most difficult decision that had to be made during this whole event,” he said.
The death toll associated with the major winter storms hitting the United States this week rose to 47 people, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.
Since Sunday, seven states have confirmed at least one death. The vast majority of the casualties, 30, have occurred in Texas as massive power outages have left millions stranded in Arctic temperatures without heat or running water.
The data also includes confirmed or suspected weather-related deaths. Dozens of deaths were attributed to traffic accidents as people attempted to travel on the dangerous roads, The Associated Press reported on Thursday.
The second most common cause of death has been carbon monoxide poisoning after people drove vehicles or generators inside to keep warm. At least 17 people have died of hypothermia or “cold exposure,” according to The Post.