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Elon Musk Texas slams grid operator ERCOT amid 4-day power outage

Newly minted Texan Elon Musk slams state’s grid operator ERCOT amid historic 4-day power outage – while Tesla owners say they are sleeping in the electric cars to stay warm

  • Musk skewered Texas electrical grid operator ERCOT in a tweet on Wednesday
  • Said the system ‘is not earning that R’, which stands for ‘reliability’ in acronym
  • More than 3 million Texans were without power in deep freeze on Wednesday
  • System ground to a halt after cold weather knocked out generating capacity
  • Tesla owners said they had resorted to sleeping in their electric cars for warmth
  • Teslas have a ‘Camp Mode’ that regulates the climate while the car is parked
  • Owners reported being able to sleep overnight and still have battery charge 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently moved to Texas, has slammed the state’s electrical grid operator as unreliable, while a number of Tesla owners say they are sleeping in the vehicles to keep warm amid an historic power outage crisis.

Musk, who is building a new Tesla factory near Austin and moved to the area from Silicon Valley in December, sniped on Wednesday at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

‘@ERCOT_ISO is not earning that R,’ he wrote in a tweet, referring to the word ‘reliability’ in the grid operator’s acronym.

Along among the contiguous states, Texas operates an independent electrical grid that does not tie in with other states, in order to avoid federal regulations. 

ERCOT, the grid operator responsible for system reliability, came under heavy criticism after a deep freeze reduced generating capacity by a third, leaving more than 3 million Texans without power on Wednesday.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently moved to Texas, has slammed the state's electrical grid operator ERCOT as unreliable

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently moved to Texas, has slammed the state’s electrical grid operator ERCOT as unreliable

Meanwhile, suffering in single-digit temperatures without power to heat their homes, some Tesla owners in Texas have turned to their electric vehicles to keep them warm at night.

Tesla in 2019 released a ‘Camp Mode’ setting that allows drivers to use the car’s climate controls for extended periods while the vehicle is in park. ‘Camp Mode’ can last for more than 24 hours without fully depleting the battery.

‘We had the power go out for 6 hours last night. Our house does not have gas, and we ran out of firewood… what are we going to do,’ one Reddit user wrote. 

‘So my wife my dog and my newborn daughter slept in the garage in our Model3 all nice and cozy. If I didn’t have this car, it would have been a very rough night.’

One Twitter user from Plano wrote: ‘I slept in the Tesla LOL. Pretty comfortable. More importantly, warm.’

One Reddit user in Texas shared how his Telsa kept his wife and newborn daughter warm

One Reddit user in Texas shared how his Telsa kept his wife and newborn daughter warm

One Twitter user from Plano wrote: 'I slept in the Tesla LOL. Pretty comfortable. More importantly, warm,' sharing a picture of the back seat converted into a cozy sleeping area

One Twitter user from Plano wrote: ‘I slept in the Tesla LOL. Pretty comfortable. More importantly, warm,’ sharing a picture of the back seat converted into a cozy sleeping area

The Tesla owner from Plano shared a picture of the back seat of their Tesla converted into a cozy sleeping area.

Another Twitter users shared a video of an image of a campfire blazing on the touchscreen of their Tesla, another feature of Camp Mode. ‘That’s what we did. We slept in our #Tesla,’ they wrote.

Some Tesla owners even boasted that that the electric vehicles can be run inside a garage without the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning — a tragic fate that has already claimed lives in the winter storm.

In Houston, a mother and daughter were killed after running a combustion-engine car inside a closed garage to keep warm on Tuesday. 

A Tesla's display screen can even show a cozy fire

'Camp Mode' can last more than 24 hours without draining the vehicle's battery

A Tesla’s display screen can even show a cozy fire. ‘Camp Mode’ can last more than 24 hours without draining the vehicle’s battery

‘Initial indications are that car was running in the attached garage to create heat as the power is out,’ the Houston Police Department said in a statement. ‘Cars, grills and generators should not be used in or near a building.’ 

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo called the deaths of the mother and daughter ‘heartbreaking.’ 

‘Please bundle up and be aware of the extreme danger carbon monoxide poses for us. Praying for this family,’ he added.

Officials also warn that sitting in a running car outdoors to stay warm can likewise pose a carbon monoxide danger, if the tailpipe is blocked by snow accumulation. 

Electric vehicles such as the Tesla do not produce carbon monoxide, so the same warnings do not apply to them. Any vehicle that burns fuel such as gasoline or diesel should never be operated in an enclosed space. 

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