Feb 23, 2021
Ron Paul partially faults Texas governor for power grid failures
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Former Texas Rep. Ron Paul is going after his own governor for the state's recent power failures due to damaging winter storms.
While Paul acknowledged several factors contributed to Texas becoming "like a Third World country," he partially faulted Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's "authoritarian Covid restrictions" for the power grid failure in a Newsmax op-ed.
"Gov. Abbott’s authoritarian Covid executive orders at least indirectly led to lax inspection, maintenance, and winterization of wind and other energy generation plants," he wrote.
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The former congressman noted that Abbott won a "wind leadership" award for his shift toward green energy policies and argued he "oversaw the near-collapse of wind energy generation" by being unprepared for the frigid temperatures. Paul claimed federal regulations forced Texas to "beg" Washington for permission to increase its energy capacity in anticipation of the storm, a request that was granted too little, too late.
"Why should the Federal government be allowed to freeze Texans to death in the name of controlling emissions from energy generation plants?" Paul wrote.
The state of Texas continues to deal with the aftershock of a winter storm that saw the state contend with subzero temperatures. Over the weekend, nearly 14 million Texans experienced water issues resulting in skyrocketing utility bills.
“We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages," Abbott said on Saturday. "Today’s meeting was productive, and I applaud Republican and Democrat members of the Legislature for putting aside partisan politics to work together on this challenge. We are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively ... to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”
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President Biden is expected to visit the state this week, telling reporters at the White House last Friday that he plans to go after localities begin to recover.
Representatives for Abbott did not immediately reply to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.News Ron Paul Greg Abbott Texas Winter Weather Electricity Storm
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Energy Executive: Texas Power Plants Turned off in Crisis
By PAUL J. WEBER and DAVID KOENIG, Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The recent blackouts that left 4 million Texas customers without electricity and heat during a deadly winter freeze also unplugged plants that could have generated more power, which was urgently needed as the state's grid reached the breaking point, the head of a major energy corporation said Thursday.
Curtis Morgan, the CEO of Vistra Corp., told lawmakers at the outset of a public hearing on one of the worst blackouts in U.S. history that when officials from his company called utility providers, they were told they weren't a priority.
“You-know-what hit the fan, and everybody’s going, ‘You’re turning off my power plant?'" he said.
At least 40 people in Texas died as a result of the storm, and 10 days after the blackout started, more than 1 million people in the state were still under boil-water notices.
Lawmakers' outrage fell heavily on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state's grid. ERCOT has claimed that the scale of the forced blackouts — the largest in Texas history — averted an even more catastrophic failure that would have wiped out power to most of the state's 30 million residents for months.
“Obviously what you did didn't work," said Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire of Houston, which had more than 1 million outages.
“It worked from keeping us (from) going into a blackout that we’d still be in today, that’s why we did it," ERCOT president Bill Magness said. “Now it didn’t work for people’s lives, but it worked to preserve the integrity of the system.”
Among Vistra's subsidiaries is, Luminant, which operates nearly two dozen plants across Texas. Morgan blamed outdated lists of critical infrastructure in Texas for darkening gas processers and production sites as grid managers began shutting off parts of the system.
Morgan didn't say how many of the company's plants were turned off or for how long, but he did say the company was within three minutes of power going offline at one nuclear plant, and that the main power grid in America’s energy capital was just moments away from total collapse Feb. 15.
“We came dangerously close to losing the entire electric system," Morgan said.
Of Texas' power generators that were not operational during the storm, Magness said the freeze was responsible 42% of the failures. A lack of fuel and equipment damage unrelated to the weather also contributed, but Magness said that for 38% of the plant outages, the problem remains unclear.
The outages lasted days for millions of Texas homes, and millions more lost water as water treatment plants shutdown and miles of pipes burst across the state. The toll of the storm included at least 15 hypothermia-related deaths around Houston, said Democratic state Rep. Ana Hernandez, vice chairwoman of the House State Affairs committee.
President Joe Biden is set to fly to Texas on Friday in what would be his first visit to a major disaster site since taking office.
Morgan accused ERCOT of a lack of “urgency" as the storm approached. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has laid much of the blame of ERCOT, which answers to a state utility commission that is led by Abbott appointees. At least six ERCOT board members, including the Chairwoman Sally Talberg, resigned this week ahead of the hearings.
A federal report after a 2011 deep freeze in Texas urged hardening electric generators against extreme cold, but neither the state's Public Utility Commission nor ERCOT required plant owners to do anything more than file weatherization plans. There are no standards for what must be included in those plans.
The crisis has put Texas' power and fossil fuel industry under heavy scrutiny from lawmakers who reap millions of dollars in unlimited political contributions from energy interests, more than any other sector.
Since 2017, Vistra Energy and its political action committee has donated more than $1.4 million to Texas politicians and groups associated with both political parties, according to state campaign finance records. Lawmakers also heard early Thursday from the top executive of NRG Energy, which has donated more than $405,000 since 2017, including $30,000 to Abbott.
Koenig reported from Dallas. Associated Press writer Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed to this report.
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Tags: Associated Press, business, Texas