Texas Governor Abbott faces criticism as millions of Texans go without power

Topline

Texas Governor Greg Abbott faces heat from local Democrats as more than 2 million Texas homes struggle without power after a snowstorm knocked out many of the state’s power plants , causing power outages that officials say could last another day.

Highlights

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which handles 90 percent of the state’s electrical load for 26 million Texans, has begun causing power outages just before 1:30 a.m. in a bid to conserve power as temperatures dipped below freezing in parts of Texas, but many residents in Houston, Austin and surrounding areas were left without power until to Monday afternoon.

Texas Democrats said that although Abbott criticized President Joe Biden new environmental regulations several weeks ago as bad for Texans, investing in alternative energy sources could have prevented blackouts.

“If Abbott cared more about doing his job than trying to scare oil and gas workers into voting for him, Texas should have been able to avoid this crisis,” the Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa in a statement. “There’s no reason why Texas – a state that produces the most energy in the nation – should have millions of people without power.”

Fossil fuel advocates have seized on reports that frozen wind turbines were partly to blame for the state blackouts, but some experts countered that far more conventional and nuclear generation capacity had been taken offline, underscoring the need to system-wide updates for manipulate extreme weather conditions.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also called on the state to take responsibility for ERCOT power outages, saying it was under state jurisdiction and cities and counties had no control. on him.

Key context

The unusually cold weather wreaked havoc across the Lone Star State, with many residents and state infrastructure unprepared. Several large oil refineries have close due to freezing conditions, including the largest in the country. A slump in oil production pushed crude futures higher on Monday in highest level seen for over a year, up 1.9% to trade at $60.61 a barrel. Abbott announced Monday afternoon that he had deployed the National Guard to conduct wellness checks and help local authorities take people to Texas “warming centers,” areas where people can seek a shelter from the cold. Abbott says the state is working to bring back the power for hundreds of thousands of residential customers. More … than 1 million people in Houston could be without power Monday night.

Further reading

More than a million people could be without power on one of Houston’s coldest nights (Forbes)

Millions without power, vaccination sites disrupted by winter storm sweeping US (Forbes)

Oil prices hit new pandemic highs amid Texas cold snap (Forbes)

Several major US oil refineries closed due to historic Texas freeze (Forbes)

2 Million Texas Homes Without Power As Massive Winter Storm Boosts Electricity Demand (Texas Grandstand)

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