Texas Grid Failure Heightens GOP Oversight of Energy Industry Dispute


The Texas grid failure that has left millions without power in freezing conditions has sparked a dispute between Democrats and the Republican Party over Republican oversight of the power industry for decades and prompted calls for a system. more resistant to extreme weather conditions.

Texas has avoided federal regulation by establishing its own power grid that is almost isolated from the rest of the country, an isolated system that conservatives in power have long praised.

But the system collapsed this week due to a surge in power demand along with utility plants frozen during a brutal winter storm, which then spiked energy prices and triggered the state’s worst blackouts in decades.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat, blamed Texas Republican leaders for prioritizing “stupid culture wars,” such as efforts to make Texas a gun “sanctuary state,” rather than protecting residents of Texas. extreme weather events aggravated by climate change.

“A lot of this was avoidable,” O’Rourke said this week in an interview with MSNBC. “Going back to the deregulation of our electrical grid in Texas, which has created an incentive to not weatherize or protect against these events.”

“The energy capital of North America cannot provide enough energy to heat and power people’s homes,” O’Rourke continued. “We are approaching a failed state in Texas. And it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters. It has everything to do with those in positions of public trust who have failed us.”

David Mudge, 59, wipes a tear while taking refuge in a shelter after record winter temperatures in Galveston, Texas, on February 18, 2021.

Adrees Latif | Reuters

The blackouts led to significant public criticism of lawmakers and state agencies for their apparent inattention to warnings about the network’s inability to handle extreme weather conditions. Energy experts said the collapse was due in part to the state’s decision not to require equipment upgrades for a more resilient system.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she hopes the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will investigate energy issues in Texas.

Jennifer Granholm, nominated by President Joe Biden for secretary of energy, said the United States must upgrade its network infrastructure as soon as possible. “One thing is certain: America’s power grid is simply not capable of handling extreme weather events,” he wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.

Although the Republican Party has overseen the state’s energy sector for decades, Republican Governor Greg Abbott, along with other conservative state leaders, have falsely blamed cuts on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which comprise only one small fraction of the state’s energy.

Abbott claimed in an interview with Fox News this week that reliance on wind and solar power “pushed Texas into a state of power shortage,” an argument that was contradicted by its own energy department.

Read more:
Texas blackouts show how vulnerable the power grid is to climate change
How the network failed and what could prevent it from happening again
Texas outages affect water supply as thousands struggle without power for fourth day

Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, tweeted: “Governor Abbott did not prepare for this storm, he was too slow to respond and now blames everyone but himself for this disaster.”

“It neglected the state’s outdated and deregulated power grid,” said Castro, who also served as secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Rick Perry, former governor of Texas and secretary of energy in the Trump administration, proclaimed Wednesday that Texans would rather endure even longer cuts “to keep the federal government out of their business” and prevent Democrats from implementing regulations to address the change. climate.

Still, the vast majority of cuts this week were due to problems with limited natural gas production and frozen supplies at natural gas, coal and nuclear facilities, not solar and wind failures.

Empty shelves in the meat aisle at a grocery store in McKinney, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.

Cooper Neill | Bloomberg | fake images

Although solar and wind power went offline because frozen blades rendered wind turbines inoperative, those technologies represent only a small fraction of electricity in Texas. The state has increased wind power in recent years, but only relies on wind power for 25% of electricity production, according to data from the Texas Electrical Reliability Council.

Republican Texas lawmakers who have poked fun at ongoing Democratic-led blackouts during extreme heat waves in California were also criticized this week after the network collapse in their home state led to blackouts.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in August blamed Biden and Kamala Harris, who were running for president and vice president, for wanting to make “California’s failed energy policy the standard across the country.”

Photos on social media Thursday allegedly showed Cruz flying to Mexico even as millions of Texans were still without heat during historically low temperatures.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona, wrote in a tweet this week that problems with the Texas network should be a message for lawmakers to monitor their words during emergencies.

“I hope this teaches Texas politicians to stop meddling in other states when they go through disasters,” Gallego wrote. “All Americans deserve the help and empathy of their compatriots, regardless of whether it is a blue or a red state.”

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