March 3, 2021 — A US Congressional subcommittee is investigating the Texas Valentine’s Week power crisis, sending a letter on Wednesday to Electric Reliability Council of Texas CEO Bill Magness asking for information and calling for “greater public attention” to the matter.
The House Oversight and Reform subcommittee on the environment, dominated by Democrats that include Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is asking for a wide range of documents because it “is concerned that the loss of electric reliability, and the resulting human suffering, deaths, and economic costs, will happen again unless ERCOT and the State of Texas confront the predicted increase in extreme weather events with adequate preparation and appropriate infrastructure.”
US Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, is chairman of the subcommittee — which also includes Texas Rep. Pat Fallon — and in the letter stated that “false claims were made by Texas officials that the power outages were attributable to renewable sources, yet the vast majority of the dip in electricity supply came from fossil fuel generation sources.”
And, in a statement, the subcommittee singled out ERCOT and the State of Texas, which it said “are well-aware of the weather predictions, yet they have failed to prepare adequately for them.
The letter calls for production of all documents pertaining to preparations for Texas winter weather going back to 2010.
“It is the hope of the Subcommittee that greater public attention and accountability will cause this cycle to change.”
And the letter added that “low-income and minority communities were disproportionately affected by power outages.
“Neighborhoods with predominately Black and Latinx residents were reportedly among the first to lose power.”
Note: In its Feb. 16 article linked above by the subcommittee, the New York Times cites the community group, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, for the conclusion that “many marginalized communities were the first to be hit with power outages,” a conclusion that has not been confirmed by officials or electric power providers.
Rep. Khanna said the subcommittee is “concerned that the loss of electric reliability, and the resulting human suffering, deaths, and economic costs, will happen again unless ERCOT and the State of Texas confront the predicted increase in extreme weather events with adequate preparation and appropriate infrastructure.”
And the subcommittee wants to know of “ERCOT’s preparedness for extreme weather events, communications regarding decisions on where and when to implement rolling blackouts and the disruption of electric supply in the extreme winter weather event of February 13 to 17, 2021, and more by March 17, 2021.”