Energy & Environment

House Democrats criticize Texas’s ‘shortcomings in preparations’ on winter storms


Five Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including two from Texas, on Friday criticized the state’s preparedness ahead of this week’s deadly winter storms in a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

“The events of this week demonstrate that there are significant shortcomings in preparations and more must be done to protect communities disproportionately impacted by winter power outages,” the letter said. 

The message penned by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Democratic Reps. Bobby Rush (Ill.), Diana DeGette (Colo.), Marc Veasey (Texas) and Lizzie Fletcher (Texas) also raised concerns that recommendations following blackouts in 2011 may not have been fully implemented. 

They were referring to a report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation recommended steps including increasing winterization. It said that electricity-generating companies “failed to adequately prepare for winter,” citing inadequate insulation and a failure to train operators and maintenance personnel on winter preparations. 

At least 47 people have died in Texas and other states this week as devastating winter storms left millions without power amid frigid temperatures. 

The lawmakers also criticized statements that Abbott has made seeking to cast blame for the outages on renewable sources, even though officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas have said that issues with various sources, particularly natural gas, have contributed to the problem. 

“These statements either suggest a lack of understanding of the Texas power grid’s fundamental operations or were an attempt to shift blame away from the very real issues that have existed within the state’s energy structure for years,” the Democrats wrote. 

Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. 

The lawmakers asked the governor a series of questions including when the state’s power will return, what he believes about how different power sources played into the issues, and whether increased connections between Texas and other power grids would have lessened the issues. 

President Biden has signed a disaster declaration for Texas, freeing up federal aid, and he said Friday he hopes to visit the state personally as soon as next week.

Tags blackouts Bobby Rush Diana DeGette electric grid Frank Pallone Jr. Greg Abbott Joe Biden Marc Veasey Power outages Texas Texas winter storm winter storms Winter weather

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