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NBC 5 Investigates: How the Gas Industry Downplayed Its Role in Winter Power Outages While Profiting From the Storm

Episode 6 of 'Powerless' streaming now online, Apple TV and Roku

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It’s the chicken or the egg question of the year in Texas. Gas or electricity? Which one was first to trigger more widespread power outages across the state during the February winter storm? NBC5 Investigates has examined hundreds of pages of industry records and talked to experts on both sides of the fence and it seems clear both share responsibility for what happened. The question now is how much both sides will share in the solutions?

It’s the chicken or the egg question of the year in Texas. Gas or electricity? Which one was first to trigger more widespread power outages across the state during the February winter storm?

Electric companies said they couldn’t produce enough power because they couldn’t get enough gas to keep power plants running. Gas companies said they couldn’t produce more gas because they couldn’t get enough power to keep wells and pipelines running.

NBC 5 Investigates has examined hundreds of pages of industry records and talked to experts on both sides of the fence and it seems clear both share responsibility for what happened. The question now is how much both sides will share in the solutions?

Within days of the storm, the chairman of the state agency that regulates oil and gas were quick to say her industry was not to blame. And the industry’s biggest lobbying group is resistant to rules that would require widespread winter weather protection for most gas wells.

Some gas companies made millions or even billions in profits selling short supplies of gas during the winter storm. So how much incentive does the gas industry have to better protect equipment from the cold?

Meanwhile, a new state committee that’s supposed to sort out which parts of the gas system really connect to the electric system is meeting in secret, leaving some observers to wonder if industry insiders will be able to manipulate the process and avoid stiffer regulations, in a state where oil and gas is king. NBC 5 Investigates in the latest installment of our digital series “Powerless.”


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