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Senate committee plans grid reliability hearing after Texas outages

Senate committee plans grid reliability hearing after Texas outages
© Greg Nash

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is planning to hold a hearing on electric grid reliability and resilience after millions were left without power in Texas and elsewhere amid a winter storm. 

“Chairman Manchin is staying abreast of the situation in Texas and other impacted areas across the country that left millions of people without power,” spokesperson Sam Runyon said in an email, referring to Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate Democrats vote to provide 0 unemployment benefits into September Senate GOP gets short-lived win on unemployment fight McConnell makes failed bid to adjourn Senate after hours-long delay MORE (D-W.Va.). 

“The Committee intends to hold a hearing to examine grid reliability with resilience and affordability front of mind to assess how best to prevent this from happening in the future,” Runyon added. 

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The desire for a hearing was bipartisan on Thursday.

Sen. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallPat Roberts joins lobbying firm weeks after Senate retirement Biden health nominee faces first Senate test Senate committee plans grid reliability hearing after Texas outages MORE (R-Kan.), also a member of the committee, had penned a letter earlier Thursday in favor of a hearing. 

“I respectfully request that the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources hold a hearing to examine the reliability and resiliency of the electric grid in extreme weather events like the arctic blast,” he wrote. 

“Electricity generators and natural gas producers in the north consistently operate in extreme cold weather. The ultimate questions become, ‘Why weren’t we prepared?’ and ‘What can we do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?,’ ” Marshall added. 

Mike Danylak, the committee’s Republican spokesperson, also said ranking member John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoMurkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination Interior Department reverses Trump policy that it says improperly restricted science Biden returns to Obama-era greenhouse gas calculation MORE (R-Wyo.) supports holding a hearing on the topic. 

No timeline for holding the hearings has yet been set.

Texas has faced blackouts for days amid the storm and more than a dozen deaths have been linked to it. 

Meanwhile, Bill Magness, president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, told the Texas Tribune on Thursday that the state’s grid was "seconds and minutes" away from uncontrolled blackouts that could have lasted months.