The electricity of love power outage or surplus lets make it last

Added: Louie Branch - Date: 27.12.2021 11:38 - Views: 29460 - Clicks: 4378

A few years ago, a series of newspaper articles shone a harsh spotlight on the foster care system in Texas. Investigative journalists with the Austin American-Statesman and the Dallas Morning News documented stomach-churning stories of cruelty and neglect made possible by an overstretched and underfunded child-welfare system. Turnover among case workers at Child Protective Services was sky-high, in part because of staggering caselo that virtually guaranteed at-risk kids would fall through the cracks.

Elected officials expressed shock and anger.

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It was a good show. They were, of course. And they had no real reason to act surprised. The systemic problems that were hurting and killing so many kids were outlined in a report commissioned by Governor George W. Little changed then, nor in That year the Legislature put a bit more money into CPS, and Patrick urged churches to adopt more foster kids in a video he posted on his website.

Lawmakers also partially privatized the system despite warnings from some advocates that doing so would create dangerous conflicts of interest. By the agency was in another crisis, with children removed from their parents sleeping in agency offices in record s for lack of any other place to send them. Elected leaders do their best to ignore real problems that only they can solve, giving them more time to micromanage the affairs of city governments and argue over who should use which restrooms.

And then, more often than not, they make token changes and move on. From the standpoint of self-preservation, this approach works wonderfully. But what if something were to happen that exposed Texans from all over the state and all walks of life to that ineptitude? More than 4. This map shows activity at 10 a. It could also prove to be even deadlier than Harvey, which took about a hundred lives. The stories of those deaths are horrifying. A year-old Vietnam War veteran went to his truck to fetch his last oxygen tank and froze there. An 8-year-old girl who died was one of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in Harris County alone, as Texans turned to generators and car engines in an attempt to stay warm.

The of deaths will be roughly calculable, eventually, as will the economic losses, but the psychological damage is harder to quantify, though no less important.

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For those who lost power, water, and cell service, the experience was briefly that of being part of a collapsing civilization. It came after a year of a pandemic and an economic crash that have already put Texans under almost unbearable pressure.

I was lucky: I was without power for 72 hours in subfreezing temperatures with food and water and a battery with which I could charge my phone. It was not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy. Most importantly, the pain fell across geographic and socioeconomic divides. Poor Texans may be more used to having the power cut, but the experience of leaving a once-comfortable suburban home to find firewood for heat was probably a bit more eye-opening.

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Someone had blood on their hands. But who? Texans were angry, and that anger was looking for an outlet. Politicians were nervous—palpably so. The effort to direct the public fury began long before the snow melted. Texans looking to their governor for answers heard little, at first. Abbott pinned the blame on wind turbines. This was a lie. It was a convenient lie, because it slotted the The electricity of love power outage or surplus lets make it last into a familiar front of the culture war—green energy versus fossil fuels, New York socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez versus Texas.

The experiment failed big time. But the still-functioning wind farms produced more than they were expected to deliver in winter weather, and helped support the grid as fossil fuel plants went offline. Solar panels, too, helped the grid avoid a worse crisis. Hours before his appearance on Hannity, Abbott told the truth to a Dallas local news station.

When the power supply declined rapidly on Monday, it was ERCOT that gave the order to the various utilities around the state to cut off homes and neighborhoods. Five of the board members did so a week later. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and a variety of lawmakers pledged investigations into the organization, ensuring that its executives and board members would face grillings throughout the ongoing legislative session. It is a technical body that plays a role analogous to an air-traffic controller.

Its leaders were powerless to overcome the high-level policy decisions that helped plunge Texas into crisis. Who, then, is to blame? Just as with the child-welfare system, the buck stops with state government—with lawmakers and governors past and present. He is the elected official most directly able for their performance and, through them, the performance of ERCOT. The current chairman, DeAnn Walker, was a senior adviser to Abbott prior to ing the board.

Before that, she was the director of regulatory affairs at CenterPoint Energy, the Houston electricity and gas giant. And in November, the commission unilaterally junked its relationship with the Texas Reliability Entity, an independent monitoring organization that makes sure electric companies follow state guidelines.

Ultimately, the Texas Legislature is. The evidence on that last point is mixed, but consumers in parts of Texas that remain regulated—including those served by investor-owned companies like El Paso Electric, city-owned utilities such as Austin Energy and CPS Energy in San Antonio, as well as rural electric cooperatives—enjoy cheaper electricity than those in the much larger part of the state that deregulated. Deregulation also made the grid less robust and less resilient. Instead, the energy-only system relies on high wholesale power prices to encourage more generators to come online when demand rises.

Customers of grids with capacity markets pay a slight premium for electricity, in exchange for more-reliable power. While most of the state suffered through blackouts and water shortages, El Paso and Amarillo were barely affected. Overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, those grids have capacity markets to ensure power amid surges in demand, and they require the weatherization of critical infrastructure.

After the Texas disaster, journalists in states such as Arizona and Colorado began asking: Could it happen in our states? No, they concluded. The grid was too robust. What happened in Texas—amid freezing weather that struck most of the country—appeared to be a peculiarly Texan disease, as illustrated by the map that accompanies this story. But there are perhaps worse things than federal oversight. Inwhen a less severe winter storm hit the Lone Star State, the grid suffered rolling blackouts.

FERC issued a report that recommended that Texas winterize power generators to prevent worse crises in the future. Several bills that would have acted on the FERC recommendations died, amid heavy lobbying from utility interests, in and subsequent sessions. While that story sucked up oxygen, the lights came back on for most Texans.

Those who are responsible for the dark days of February in the first place will make some changes—there seems to be a consensus emerging that Texas should require the weatherization of power plants—but otherwise, they hope that you will forget how mad you were. What is power for?

Much of Texas gained access to electric power less than a century ago. Rural electrification helped lift many Texans out of a cyclical trap of poverty and the backbreaking physical labor of hauling water from wells to homes. It was made possible by politicians, among them Lyndon Baines Johnson, who believed that the point of obtaining political power was to use it—to create security and opportunity for those who elected you. But they believed that politics had a purpose.

When Texas politicians deregulated the electricity market, they tried to wash their hands of a core function of government and delegate responsibility to for-profit actors and distant bureaucrats. This abdication of governance gives lawmakers plausible deniability for whatever comes next.

When something goes wrong, they are quick to blame everyone but themselves. Responsibility is something other people are supposed to take. On February 22, Patrick held a press conference at the Lubbock airport, part of a damage-control tour. Source: poweroutage.

The electricity of love power outage or surplus lets make it last

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Texans blindsided by massive electric bills await details of Gov. Greg Abbott's promised relief