Earlier this year, Texans across the state got several warnings for a winter storm that most anticipated to be a fluke.
Instead, grueling days of power outages, burst pipes, no running water and thousands of residents struggling to keep their freezing houses warm ensued — some even died in the process. Dire conditions led to the loss of the lives of a myriad of Texans as Winter Storm Uri swept the state.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) ensured Texans that power outages would be resolved quickly. However, as major cities like San Antonio’s downtown stood brightly lit, hundreds of people huddled closely for a minute of warmth.
Texans would later learn the state’s grid was overworked which led to power outages and conservation warnings throughout the freeze, this left the system just minutes away from causing a total statewide blackout that would leave us without power for weeks.
Months after the devastating event, ERCOT issued a statement pleading with Texans to watch their energy consumption levels during the hottest projected week of the summer — a week that is no stranger to native Texans. Coupled with February’s incident, it is clear that Texas cannot feasibly and reasonably sustain itself alone without receiving help from the nation.
Texas must join the national grid, with an emergency connection, in order to ensure people do not die from power outages and to promote stable living amid the climate change crisis.
Instead of spending time inflicting continuous regulations upon women’s bodies, barring children in school from learning about the brutalities that America imposed on people of color, invalidating the human rights of transgender people and cracking down on immigrants, the Texas Legislature must address and face the failures of its own electrical grid.
Joining the national grid is not an easy task, money would have to be allocated to engineers and project managers so we could interconnect the system to the national grid, but it is a feasible project that can help Texans save money on electricity bills and create jobs.
In order to avoid another catastrophic event in which millions are left without power and resources, Texas must allocate the money to connect to the national grid. Profit should never supersede human lives and comfort, and, during a time where climate change is clearly showing its effects upon the planet, these necessities are of utmost importance.
Texas is the only state in the nation to not be linked to the national power grid, solely due to its fundamental business model: profit and lack of federal regulation. Created in 1970, ERCOT sought to deliver electricity at low prices to its consumer. However, this 1970 business model has, at this point, failed — people were left in February with absurd electricity bills as a result of the storm.
Although ERCOT was created to cater to customers with low prices and lucrative services, it has instead failed to provide the necessary stability to its customers. Furthermore, five of the 15 total board members do not reside in Texas, meaning that they, ultimately, do not suffer any consequences of a grid failure.
It is clear that ERCOT and Texas’ profit-driven incentives regarding electricity, as well as the lack of federal regulations, have caused undue devastation and avoidable events. Although Texas draws astronomical amounts of power, the grid must be improved, and an emergency line must be established in order to help Texans during a crisis.
With the reality of climate change looming overhead, Texas must rethink its profit model and ensure that Texans across the state have a stable and reliable electricity source.
It is time that Texas considers asking for help, in exchange for peace and stability among its residents.
- Valeria Torrealba is a public relations senior
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