State Watch

Texas official promises ‘lights will be on’ this winter

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Martin Holverda via iStock

Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Peter Lake promised Lone Star State residents that their lights would remain on throughout the winter on Wednesday after a cold snap in February of this year caused major power outages in the South.

Lake’s comments came during a press conference in Austin accompanied by Brad Jones, the interim CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the group that runs the electric grid, according to The Dallas Morning News.

“The ERCOT grid is stronger and more reliable than ever,” Lake said. “We go into this winter knowing that because of all these efforts the lights will stay on.”

Lake’s remarks came before his commission announced it had filed violations against eight power companies that did not meet new weatherization requirements. Specifically, the companies did not file readiness reports that policies for winter preparedness demanded, the Morning News reported.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has made similar promises about the electricity remaining on this winter after he was the subject of political criticism for the mass outages that took place in Texas earlier this year. 

At the time, experts said that Texas’s electrical grid was not properly weatherized, and that ERCOT was largely unprepared for the harsh winter temperatures.  

However, some, including Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, have said that winterizing plants is not enough. 

“We can winterize every power plant in the state, but that won’t be enough to keep the lights on this winter unless state leaders require gas supply companies to weatherize their infrastructure,” O’Rourke said in a statement.

“I urge Texans to prepare for another grid failure in the event of extreme weather this winter,” he added. 

In February, millions of Texans lost power in a days-long outage after winter weather wreaked havoc on the electric grid and caused a shortage of safe drinking water. Residents were encouraged to boil their tap water at the time, for fear of contamination. 

Over 200 people died as a result of complications from the cold snap, including from hypothermia, traffic accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

On top of the deaths, the outages caused $130 billion in damages, a Dallas Federal Reserve Bank report said. 

Tags ERCOT Greg Abbott rolling power outages Texas cold snap
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