The House Oversight Committee is investigating the agency that operates the Texas power grid, seeking information and documents on the lack of preparation for the recent winter storm that caused millions of power outages and dozens of deaths across the state, the Associated Press reports.
Rep Ro khanna, a California Democrat who chairs a subcommittee on the environment, sent a letter to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), saying he is concerned that the loss of electrical service “and the resulting human suffering, deaths, and economic costs “They will happen again unless ERCOT and the State of Texas adequately prepare for an anticipated increase in extreme weather events.
Severe winter storms in Texas “have occurred repeatedly for decades, and ERCOT has not been prepared for them,” Khanna wrote in a letter to ERCOT’s CEO. Bill magness. The group’s own consultant has predicted that severe winter weather events will continue to occur every decade, yet ERCOT and state officials have done little to prepare for them or build the proper infrastructure, Khanna said.
Magness was fired Wednesday amid growing calls for his removal following deadly storms.But he will stay for two months to “work with state leaders and regulators on possible ERCOT reforms,” the organization said in a statement.
“The failures of ERCOT and the state of Texas were costly,” wrote Khanna. At least 49 Texans have died and more than 4.5 million people experienced power outages.
“Homeowners, renters and businesses face high expenses to repair damage caused by frozen and broken pipes, and the Texas Insurance Board estimates that claims could exceed $ 20 billion,” Khanna wrote. Total economic losses in Texas could reach $ 50 billion.
Because Texas is not connected to the national grid, “ERCOT has a limited capacity to import electricity from out of state,” Khanna noted, adding that nearby regions, such as El Paso, experienced the same extreme temperatures but fewer outages.
An ERCOT spokeswoman said officials received the letter and will respond to the subcommittee.
Some Republicans have tried to falsely blame power outages on renewable energy use, but the governor of Texas Greg abbottUltimately, he has blamed ERCOT for the power outages. The three-member public utilities commission appointed by Abbott has supervisory authority over the network operator. The chairman of the public services commission resigned last week, and at least six ERCOT board members also resigned in the wake of the blackout, one of the largest in US history.
Last month’s storm followed similar winter storms in 1989 and 2011 that also caused massive blackouts, Khanna said. “It appears that the lessons learned (again) in 2011 were also not implemented, leaving Texas vulnerable to extreme winter weather again in 2021,” he wrote.
The subcommittee requested documents from ERCOT before March 17, 17 related to its preparation for extreme weather events; decisions about where and when to implement continuous blackouts; and the interruption of the electricity supply in mid-February.