Environment Subcommittee Launches Probe of ERCOT’s Role in Texas Power Crisis

Mar 3, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Mar. 3, 2021)— Today, Rep. Ro Khanna, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Environment, sent a letter to Bill Magness, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), requesting information and documents regarding their lack of preparation for the recent winter storm that caused millions of power outages across the state.

 

“Extreme winter weather events in Texas have occurred repeatedly over decades, and ERCOT has been unprepared for them,” Chairman Khanna wrote.  “ERCOT’s own consultant has predicted that such extreme winter weather events will continue to occur every decade.  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.”

 

Despite similar winter storms that occurred in 1989 and 2011 in Texas, and recommendations for preparation for future extreme weather events in a 2011 joint Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) report, public reporting indicates that generation sources in the state were unprepared for the low temperatures in February.

 

During this year’s storm, 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.

 

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.  

 

“The risk of increased extreme winter weather events in the United States underscores the need for adequate preparation,” Chairman Khanna wrote.  “ERCOT and the State of Texas are well-aware of the weather predictions, yet they have failed to prepare adequately for them.  It is the hope of the Subcommittee that greater public attention and accountability will cause this cycle to change.”

 

The Subcommittee requests documents relating to 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.

 

Click here to read today’s letter.

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117th Congress