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article imageOp-Ed: Texas' politicians responsible for power grid going down

By Karen Graham     Feb 20, 2021 in Politics
Texas Governor Greg Abbott was quick to blame ERCOT for the disastrous mess left after a snowstorm's below-freezing temperatures knocked out the state's power grid, but the blame should be put on the politicians who ignored an August 2011 FERC report.
After suffering for days with freezing temperatures, power outages, busted water pipes, no heat or water, and food shortages, the state's 29 million people still don't know when their lives will get back to a semblance of normal.
“Every source of power the state of Texas has access to has been compromised,” Gov. Greg Abbott said, blaming the unaptly named Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for the disaster and demanding an investigation, which is the least that should be done, reports NBC News.
Many Texans are blaming Abbott and his Republican government for failing to warn them that power would be out for days amid a historic freeze not seen in 70 years. And people and their homes were just not prepared for the cold snap. Homes are not insulated, roads are not salted, and snowplows are nearly non-existent.
“It was clarifying,” a former Ohio resident told the Texas Tribune, “because now we know when things hit the fan, we’re in it alone.”
By Tuesday, the situation in Texas had come down to utility operators and politicians squabbling over responsibility for "load shedding" and "rolling blackouts" while parents slept in cars with their children, just to keep them warm, and families with fireplaces burned pieces of furniture, trying to stay warm.
Put the blame on the politicians
But what is the reality here? How is it possible that the number one energy producer in the country couldn't keep their own people warm? I dislike saying this, but one contributing factor may be the "Go-it-Alone" attitude of many politicians and corporations in Texas.
However, the decision for the main electric grid to be separate from other grids — unlike that of other states — was born of Texas’ famous go-it-alone attitude. The Texas grid was created during World War II when several Texas utilities banded together to form one large operation called the Texas Interconnected System. This was a political move to stay out of the reach of federal regulators.
As a result, this basically means that the interconnection is exempt from most regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Secondly, it's not like Texas wasn't aware of the coming deep-freeze, either. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a warning on January 5, 2021, announcing that rising temperatures in the North Pole are causing parts of the polar vortex to split off and move southward, leading to the possibility of a particularly harsh winter in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
People help fill jugs at a drive-through water distribution center at a high school in Kyle  Texas o...
People help fill jugs at a drive-through water distribution center at a high school in Kyle, Texas on February 20, 2021
JOE RAEDLE, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
And it seems that Texas politicians have forgotten the cold spell of 2011 that froze natural gas wells and affected coal plants and wind turbines, leading to power outages across the state.
Texas politicians and regulators were warned after the February 1-5, 2011 storm that more “winterizing” of power infrastructure was necessary, according to an August 2011 report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
ERCOT said that some generators since then implemented new winter "best practices," but these were on a voluntary basis and mandatory regulation had not been established. Ed Hirs, an energy fellow and economics professor at the University of Houston, says. “They limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”
Yet this week, Abbott and his Republican cronies blamed the proposed solar power policies of the Green New Deal and the 40 wind farms that dot the Texas landscape for the collapse of the power grid, ignoring the fact that natural gas wellheads froze up and uninsulated water lines burst.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about texas disaster, power grids, no regulation, poor infrastructure, Politicians
 
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