A West Texas miracle: Why most City of Monahans households kept power through the whole winter storm

Mayor David Cutbirth explains how the town’s lucky placement saved them from the state power...
Mayor David Cutbirth explains how the town’s lucky placement saved them from the state power crisis.(Shane Battis)
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 8:19 PM CST
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CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story did not mention the power outages that impacted people living outside the Monahans city limits in Ward County. This report is focused exclusively on the unique relief found within the city limits and has been edited to make that more clear to viewers.


Mass power outages have made life miserable almost everywhere in Texas this week—almost everywhere.

Although the snow’s falling in the City of Monahans, life hasn’t been so bad for residents this week who live inside the city limits. That’s because a little bit of luck has kept most houses lit while the rest of the state has gone dark.

“Probably around 95-96% of the population of the City of Monahans had no problems whatsoever,” Mayor David Cutbirth said.

That’s right. While major cities from Houston to Dallas, as well as many here in West Texas, shivered in the dark, little Monahans has been sitting pretty.

“To see them kind of ahead and keeping the power on for the most part has been kind of surprising,” Aaron Huffty said.

We asked Cutbirth how did this tiny town keep chugging along during a statewide power crisis?

“We’d love to take credit for that,” Cutbirth said. “But we were at the right place at the right time.”

It turns out Monahans’ power grid is tied to a major West Texas power plant.

Because ERCOT can’t afford to let that plant stop churning power, lucky Monahans has been skipped during the rolling blackouts.

“I know it’s hard to say it’s not fair, but it’s not,” Huffty said.

It’s bittersweet for Huffty who’s been watching other Texans freeze on TV wishing they could stay warm too.

“If I could give up a couple hours of electricity so that others can have it, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” Huffty said. “But I can’t control that. I wish I could.”

Cutbirth said this relief only applied to people who live inside the city limits.

Ward County, he said, relies on a different power grid, so people outside the city where affected by power outages like many other cities throughout West Texas.

The mayor said he hopes after the storm clears the state learns to invest in infrastructure to prevent statewide catastrophes like this one.

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