power outages

Texas Lawmakers to Hold Hearings on Power Outages

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Long after the snow melts, and the power is back on, lawmakers will be in hearings, trying to determine exactly what went wrong. The senate committee on business and commerce will hold a hearing. State senator Kelly Hancock chairs the committee.

 “A lot of focus is on ERCOT. Their job is to keep our grid up and running. And they can only do that based on the power they get from the generation, and the generators can only supply the power based on the gas that they get from the pipelines and the pipelines can only supply the gas based on what they are getting from the wells. And so,  I will tell you we have had failures throughout the system and we are going to look at it top to bottom” said Hancock.

There will also be a joint hearing by the House State Affairs and Energy Resources Committee. House Speaker Dade Phelan released a statement about the hearings, part of it saying “I’m asking these two vital committees to convene a joint hearing on February 25th for the express purpose of helping Texans understand what went wrong and how we can prevent these conditions from happening again. We must cut through the finger-pointing and hear directly from stakeholders about the factors that contributed to generation staying down at a time when families needed it most, what our state can do to correct these issues, and what steps regulators and grid operators are taking to safeguard our electric grid.”

In the meantime, the federal government is also involved with a FEMA response. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday, “Our team and FEMA continue to monitor the situation in Texas, as well as other states in the storm's path that might be impacted. We remain in close contact with states across the affected area to ensure any federal support requirements are met. FEMA has supplied generators to Texas and is preparing to move diesel into the state to ensure the continued availability of backup power -- which of course is a major issue on the ground -- to key critical infrastructure including communications, hospitals, and water. FEMA is also supplying Texas with water and blankets at their request. We’re preparing to quickly process requests from other states for emergency assistance… that's how the process typically works, and we urge people in the affected states to of course listen to their emergency management officials.”

Look for federal lawmakers to take action in the future.

“We are going to have to figure out how to make sure this never happens again.  Texas has its own grid as you know, it’s run separately. But I think we need to find out of there is any federal support we can give to make sure that our power plants are winterized because that has been the real issue here,” said Rep. Colin Allred.

Allred also said there will be months of recovery and millions of dollars in damages, and FEMA will play an important role in that.

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