In the aftermath of the crisis, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), summarized the cause of the widespread blackouts that plagued the state. They wrote that Texas had a weather event “unusually severe in terms of temperature, wind, and duration,” forcing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (yes, Reliability’s actually in the name), or ERCOT, to resort to “system-wide rolling blackouts to prevent more widespread customer outages.”
It went on to say that “generators and natural gas producers suffered severe losses of capacity despite having received accurate forecasts of the storm.” The review concluded that generators “failed to adequately apply and institutionalize knowledge and recommendations from previous severe winter weather events, especially as to winterization of generation and plant auxiliary equipment.”
Reading this, it seems an accurate assessment of the recent Texas power losses that cost several people their lives and Ted Cruz any semblance of his remaining credibility.
Except, this report isn’t about the 2021 Texas disaster. It’s in response to a 2011 storm that also knocked out the Texas power grid. The report recommended investments to winterize the power grid and better prepare for an extended cold snap.
Texas politicians decided it wasn’t worth it. Winterizing the grid would cost money and they were happy to let the power companies use that money to finance their campaigns instead of protecting citizens. Instead of implementing new regulations, ERCOT (Reliability, remember?) issued a set of voluntary guidance.
Without these investments, the most recent crisis was an accident waiting to happen. Except, of course, there was nothing accidental about it.
Look for Blame rather than the Cause.
“To err is human. To blame someone else is politics.” — Hubert H. Humphrey
In the aftermath of the Texas crisis, politicians had two options: fix blame or fix problems. They quickly defaulted to the former.