Texas Snow Storm

Jahir Rojas-Reyes, Journalist

On February 13, an arctic storm system swept through the continental US, wreaking havoc on states as far south as  Texas. The storms caused blackouts in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and other states. One third of oil production was stopped, drinking water systems were damaged, road networks were paralyzed, and vaccination efforts in 20 states were halted. Although a few states did see some substantial damage none was as serious as in Texas. 4.4 million were left without power, 82 people died, and millions didn’t have safe drinkable water for days during the Texas power crises. 

To understand what happened in Texas we must understand how the US power grid works. In essence, your electricity comes from the power grid which gets electricity from various sources such as nuclear, wind, and natural gas. These facilities are typically run by private companies which use your local power utilities to transfer power to your homes. The public utility commission oversees that power utility and sets safety standards and prices. These power grids are enormous, in fact, they might just be the biggest machine ever built in human history.  The entire east coast, from Florida all the way up to parts of Canada make up the eastern interconnection and the entire west coast makes up the western interconnection. 

Because they belong to the same interconnection, states can share power with each other. This was good news for Oklahoma which saw severe winter storms as well since it was able to get power from neighboring states in the same interconnection in order to prevent major blackouts. Texas on the other hand, which opted out of this system, could not get power from neighboring states. 

Texas had made it clear it wanted out of the US power grid from the formation of it in 1938. Its goal was to completely deregulate its power grid for lower prices and lessen  federal intervention. The problem with this was private companies operated solely for profit and didn’t incentivize spending  money on infrequent events like  winter storms. The equipment is often too old and very inefficient. Most equipment was never winterized despite the 2011 storm which also wreaked havoc in Texas. It was so bad, Texas had to get power from Mexico. 

So as millions of Texans were freezing in their own homes demanding for explanations and accountability, governor Greg Habbot went on live tv and spat lie after lie about his own failures as the governor. He blamed everyone but himself and his government for not holding these private companies up to standards. He even went as far as to blaming renewables and the Green New Deal.

In an interview with John Hanitty on FOX news he stated, “This shows how the green new deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Our wind and our solar got shut down and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid. That thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis. It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas as well as other states to make sure we can heat our homes in the winter time and cool our homes in the summertime.” 

Where to even begin. 

First of all, he’s blaming a deal that has not even been implemented in any state, unfortunately, and has nothing to do with this state’s power failures. Texas is a republican state. They have a republican mayor, a republican  lieutenant governor, two republican senators, a republican state senate, and a republican state house. There is no Green New Deal and if there was, Texas would definitely not be the first state to adopt it. He also blamed wind and solar which he even mentioned only makes up 10% of the power grid. The only reason those did fail was because of the ignorance of the power companies and their failure to winterize their equipment. There are literal wind farms in Antarctica. Don’t tell me wind energy is possible in Antarctica and not in Texas. Also if he wanted to blame renewable energy, which again, only accounts for 10% of Texas’ power grid, he should have also mentioned coal and natural gas plants which completely shut off and make up 46%. Why didn’t he mention that? Oh that’s right he’s gotten $26 million dollars for his campaign from oil and gas industries. Might want to think twice before you call out such a big donor. 

Another story which made headlines was Ted Cruz. While Alexandra Ocassio Cortez from New York raised millions of dollars to help Texan families in need, congressman Ted Cruz decided it was a good idea to take a vacation somewhere not as cold. There were people literally dying of hypothermia in his state, and Ted Cruz thought it was the perfect time to go on vacation to Cancun. That is just comical. 

After such a disaster I am really hoping Texas rethinks its deregulated power grid and holds such irresponsible people accountable. This is a wake up call for Texans who pride themselves on limiting federal intervention in such influential and important sectors. The worst part is now people who have power must pay 10 times more than original prices only to keep their homes warm. In one case a man was interviewed with a bill of $17,000. It’s disgusting and I am looking forward to seeing the people responsible fired soon.