Millions without power in Texas as dangerous winter weather continues

"This is the winter version of Hurricane Harvey," Texas' governor said.

More than 2.9 million customers in Texas were without power Wednesday morning as dangerous winter weather conditions continue to slam the state.

At least nine people have died in Texas, according to The Associated Press, including four family members who died in a fire started by a fireplace. Three died of carbon monoxide poisoning and two men found by the side of the road in Houston believed to have died in sub-freezing temperatures.

Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the agency that oversees the state's electric grid, entered its highest alert level overnight Sunday into Monday and started rolling blackouts to conserve power.

"This is typically done through rotating outages, which are controlled, temporary interruptions of electric service," ERCOT said in a statement obtained by ABC News. "This type of demand reduction is only used as a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole."

To help conserve energy, ERCOT asked residents to close their blinds, unplug unused appliances, wait to do laundry for a few days, wear warmer clothes and put the heat at 68 degrees.

ERCOT said Tuesday, "The number of controlled outages we have to do remains high. We are optimistic that we will be able to reduce the number throughout the day."

Judge Lina Hidalgo, Harris County's elected leader, said Tuesday that 70,000 power outages were caused by severe weather, but that number is now down to 30,000.

Hidalgo, however, noted that 1.2 million customers continue to be without power because of the forced state/ERCOT power outages -- roughly the same as Monday.

She was also critical of the forced outages, saying, "We've been hit hard by nature this week, but we can't deny that some of this is a man-made disaster as well. And the 5 million residents of this county, and really this region and in this state, will deserve answers from ERCOT and the state once this is over."

Two federal agencies with oversight of energy grid reliability -- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation -- will open a joint inquiry into the grid operations during the storm.

Texas vaccine shipments are on hold because of the storm.

"Due to the winter storm and dangerous conditions, the CDC has put vaccine shipments on hold," the Texas Department of State Health Services said. "We are not expecting deliveries to occur until at least Wednesday. Many local vaccine providers have postponed clinics since it is not safe for people to be out across much of Texas right now. Vaccination will resume as soon as it is safe and local conditions allow."

President Joe Biden approved Texas' emergency disaster proclamation on Sunday. The president also spoke to Abbott on Tuesday afternoon and promised federal help if necessary.

But Texas isn't out of the woods yet. A new storm is hitting the state on Wednesday.

This new storm already brought up to 9 inches of snow to Amarillo, Texas. Freezing rain is falling in Austin and San Antonio where everything is covered in a layer of ice.

Severe thunderstorms, damaging winds and tornadoes are possible along the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama, Wednesday evening.

ABC News' J. Gabriel Ware, Ivan Pereira and Jamie Aranoff contributed to this report.