Imperfect Storm in Texas Begs Questions, Answers

As we continue to watch the dangerous trials and tribulations of those residing in Texas and contiguous states, calls for investigations into what exactly happened and why are almost as loud as those for help. This after more than a week of unwieldy weather and hundreds of thousands still without power and safe drinking water. What happened and how is it being communicated?

Though complicated, it appears at the core a lack of preparedness and winterization of infrastructure have been the primary culprits. Add a dearth of industry regulation in Texas and many customers are experiencing skyrocketing fuel bills – amazingly some in the five figures. All of this is bringing criticism of both public officials and the leadership of, in particular, ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas).

Governor Greg Abbott has come under fire after appearing to point a finger directly at renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines, that make up about 10% of overall infrastructure, as a primary culprit. Senator Ted Cruz, of course, took a quick jaunt to Cancun and back amid criticism – acknowledging later that is was in hindsight, “a mistake.”

ERCOT meanwhile, inserted foot in mouth early with several tone deaf tweets, including:

  • “Close your blinds to conserve heat. You already know what it looks like outside.”
  • “Laundry on Valentine’s Day? No.”
  • “Unplug the fancy new appliances you bought during the pandemic and only used once.”

Perhaps to ERCOT’s credit, those have not been taken down. Rather, subsequent communications have been both informative, consistent and sensitive, including notice of a consumer scam that has been occurring.

While none of us yet know all of the details, there have been failures that are coming out bit-by-bit, as well as corrective actions that are being taken. There will be a reckoning, as there is in any crisis situation, of who knew what when and what was done about it. There, ERCOT has again come under scrutiny with allegations that they knew trouble was coming that might necessitate interrupted service many days earlier and communicated nothing.

While the people of Texas deserve good health and safety, they also deserve strong leadership, honesty and transparency – communicated with real-time information and a resolve to solve the crisis, determine what exactly occurred, and take corrective action to ensure such storm clouds can be cleared more efficiently and effectively in the future. These people are hurting. They deserve better.

Image: USA Today.