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Gov. Greg Abbott held a meeting Saturday with other state leaders to discuss the spikes some Texans are seeing in their energy bills following a massive winter storm that caused multi-day power outages across the state.
The meeting came after numerous reports from Texans receiving exorbitant electricity bills despite having no power during the storm. A Texan, according to The New York Times, received an electricity bill for $ 16,752. Not all residents you will see the spikes in your bills.
In a statement, Abbott called the meeting productive and said leaders “are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively this week on solutions.” The meeting took place via conference call.
Winter Storm February 2021
When will my water return? How can I get water in the meantime?
We do not know. State and city officials urge patience and tell Texans who have running water to boil it. Take steps to prepare for several days without water. Austin officials, for example, said on February 19 that restoring water services would likely be a multi-day, city-wide process. We have some resources here, but the best thing you can do to find free water is to check your local media.
Will I receive a high energy bill?
Maybe. People all over the state have received huge energy bills. One resident, according to The New York Times, received an electric bill for $ 16,752. Gov. Greg Abbott has said his office is working with lawmakers to lower bills. Not everyone will face big bill spikes. Austin, for example, has fixed base rates. If you are concerned, check with your utility provider. Read more here.
How can I get updates?
Sign up for our updates by texting the word “hello” to 512-967-6919 or visiting this page.
I was without electricity for more than a day. Why do people call these continuous outages?
When the state’s power grid operator began implementing continuous outages at 1:25 am CT on February 15, they were intended to be a temporary measure to cope with an extreme winter event. Instead, some Texans are left without power for much longer, facing days without power instead of the 45 minutes originally planned. The power grid was designed to be in high demand during the summer, when Texans turn on the air conditioning at home. But some of the energy sources that feed the grid during the summer are disconnected during the winter. So when Texans stayed home during Sunday’s storm and demanded record amounts of electricity, the state’s power grid couldn’t keep up.
Wait, we have our own power grid? Why?
Yes, Texas has its own electrical grid managed by an agency called ERCOT, the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas. The story is long, but the short version is: Texas has its own network to avoid dealing with federal regulations. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Energy Act, which charged the Federal Energy Commission with overseeing inter-state electricity sales. But Texas public services do not cross state lines. ERCOT was formed in 1970, in the wake of a major blackout in the Northeast in November 1965, and was tasked with managing network reliability in accordance with national standards. Keep in mind that Texas is not all on this same electrical grid. El Paso is on another grid, as is the Upper Panhandle and a part of East Texas.
I read online that wind turbines are the reason we lost power. That’s right?
No. The lost wind power represents only a fraction of the reduction in power generation capacity that has caused outages for millions of Texans. An official with the Texas Electric Reliability Council said on Feb. 16 that 16 gigawatts of renewable power generation, primarily wind generation, was off-line. Almost double, 30 gigawatts, have been lost from thermal sources, including gas, coal and nuclear power. “Texas is a gas state,” said Michael Webber, a professor of energy resources at the University of Texas at Austin. “Gas is failing in the most spectacular way right now.”
How can I stay warm? How can I help others?
The National Weather Service encourages people to close blinds and curtains, gather in one room if possible and close the doors to others, and place towels in the cracks under the doors. Wear loose layers of light, warm clothing. Snacking and staying hydrated will help warm up your body. Some cities are providing heating and transportation centers as needed; find local resources here. If you have the resources or can offer financial donations, look here for non-profit organizations that are helping people.
Along with Abbott, Senate and House heads, Republicans, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, respectively, were also on the call.
Members of both houses also participated in the meeting, including the chairpersons of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees that draft the budget, as well as the chairs of the Senate Business and Commerce and Energy Resources committees of the Camera.
The discussion with lawmakers, according to the governor’s office, focused on calculating the cost of those skyrocketing energy bills and “how the state can help reduce this burden.”
Abbott’s office also announced Sunday that the governor would give an update at 2:30 p.m. Central Time on efforts to bring water and other supplies to communities across the state.
Later this week, House and Senate committees will meet to investigate how the outages occurred and what roles entities such as the Texas Electrical Reliability Council played in those outages.
“On Thursday the questioning of the stakeholders involved begins to find out if something went wrong, what went wrong, who is to blame, and most importantly, what solutions we can make in the future as the State Legislature … to make sure we may this never happen again, “said State Rep. Craig Goldman, a Fort Worth Republican who chairs the House Committee on Energy Resources, during an NBC-DFW interview that aired Sunday.
Disclosure: The New York Times has been a financial sponsor of The Texas Tribune, a non-profit, non-partisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in Tribune journalism. Find a complete list of them here.