Legislators in the Lone Star State are wasting no time in getting to the bottom of the disastrous blackouts that occurred during Winter Storm Uri, and it could mean big trouble for the power companies involved.
When Uri hit Texas, several utility providers were planning to enact rolling blackouts, in hopes of staving off mass outages and extensive damage to the power grid.
That plan fell far short, and soon, over two dozen Texans had died on account of that. This has Texas lawmakers looking to act.
Texas state legislators on Thursday begin digging into the causes of deadly power blackouts that left millions shivering in the dark as frigid temperatures caught its grid operator and utilities ill-prepared for skyrocketing power demand.
Hearings are expected to highlight that shortcomings by grid planners, electric utility and natural gas transmission operators led to billions of dollars in damages and dozens of deaths. Consumer advocates have called for more stringent regulation of utilities and a review of retail marketing plans.
Up to 48% of the state’s power generation was offline at times last week. Utilities were ordered to cut power to prevent a larger catastrophe, Bill Magness, chief executive of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state’s grid operator, said on Wednesday.
The governor was similarly concerned.
Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday said public anger was justified and pledged proposals to increase power supplies and to protect those residents hit with enormous power bills. He blamed ERCOT, saying it should have acted faster to prevent generators from falling offline.
Texas, a famously independent state, has resisted federal regulation of their power grid – a decision that some feel needs to be reexamined.