Texas House, Senate hold hearings to investigate last week’s crippling power outages
By James Barragán February 24, 2021
Texas lawmakers will hold hearings Thursday to investigate last week’s power outages that left millions of Texans shivering in the cold as a freezing winter storm knocked out huge portions of the state’s electric supply for days.
The House’s State Affairs and Energy Resources committees will hold a joint hearing simultaneously with the Senate’s Business and Commerce Committee beginning at 9 a.m., as both chambers of the Legislature look for answers on what went catastrophically wrong and what can be done to prevent similar outages.
Officials have admitted that there’s “plenty of blame to go around” as they search for answers. But energy experts say focusing on blame will not solve the considerable flaws last week’s storm exposed in Texas’ energy system. Here are five things they said lawmakers should focus on.
The experts said all state agencies and officials involved in regulation of energy should be held to account. But they said the Legislature has opted for low regulation for decades, making it impossible for regulators to implement standards on issues like “weatherization.”
“Our policies have deliberately held back regulation,” Silverstein said. “Texas, sort of philosophically, wants as little and as weak regulatory intervention as possible. And now we’re reaping that bitter harvest.”
If lawmakers want to prevent similar outages in the future, Cohan said, they’ll need to pass laws that let regulators enforce some standards.