Big Chill Hit Texas Like Deer in Headlights
In 2011, severe winter weather hit Texas and caused rolling blackouts state wide. The Texas Senate held hearings, politicians puffed their chests and threats of heavier energy industry regulation filled the air, until the tempest passed and zilch was done. Texas was then and remains a state with largely recommended winterization protocols for the energy industry.
So, typically, and to keep costs down and profits up, gas producers, petroleum refiners and power generation facilities take advantage of lower demand in winter months to undertake repairs and upgrades to get ready for the next summer of high demand. That’s a great strategy if one is dealing with mild winter. But, let an arctic storm of major proportions come knocking and the floor falls out of that strategy in a hurry.
Texas is home to the historical wildcatters and free rangers of old and little has changed in a century. Money still talks and policy walks in Austin. So, instead of the Legislature passing statutes to make the state’s energy industry be ready year round, it created a fuzzy non-profit counseling entity called ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) to make “recommendations” of steps to prepare generators for extreme weather events.
Big surprise, since such “recommended steps” cost money they are universally ignored and every time winter storms roll in Texans freeze, homes are destroyed and we are treated to another round of political chest puffing and finger pointing which will inevitably fizzle in the face of moderating weather, leaving us all vulnerable to the inevitable next time.
Isn’t it about time we elect folks as our leaders who want to actually lead instead of doing whatever it is they're doing? Get some blankets and extra sweaters, cause the next one’s coming, like it or not…