Monday, February 22, 2021

Piss Poor Leadership in Texas Grid Failure

In the middle of a record long arctic cold snap we lost power over five days.  I called our power transmission line carrier multiple times.  Not once did the person at the other end of the phone level with me.  I called local officials who were unable to tell me what was going on and when our power might be restored.  

Vanity Fair highlighted what was absent in Texas during a life threatening situation.

In times of crisis, people typically look for strong, pragmatic leaders who will allay their fears while being straight with them and work around the clock to solve the problem at hand. Usually—not in all cases but in most of them—people aren’t interested in seeing elected officials go on TV or the internet and blame others for the situation they‘re in, but rather use what precious time they have to figure out how to fix things.

Texans got lied to (Governor Greg Abbott and Rep. Dan Crenshaw) and fled from (Senator Ted Cruz and Attorney General Ken Paxton).  Former Governor and Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry surfaced long enough to say something bizarre about Texans staying cold to avoid socialism.  Perry was Texas Governor in 2011 when the grid failed for a mere 36 hours. 

I doubt Rick Perry's house got down to 41 degrees while stoking a fireplace insert day and night.  I doubt Rick Perry went out in bitter cold conditions to ensure animals had food and water.  I doubt Rick Perry braved the elements to cut up firewood with supplies running low.

Socialists didn't cut my power for days on end.  Socialists didn't promise me a rolling blackout and leave us in the dark from Sunday, February 14th to Thursday,  February 18th with only a few shots of power to briefly take the edge off the bitter cold.  No socialist failed to inform us of our particular power outage and when it might be restored.   

I want to know what Rick Perry did as Governor to prevent the 2011 blackout that occurred on his shift from happening again.  I want to know what he did as Energy Secretary to ensure Texas power generators winterized for a 2011 like storm or one that might last longer in duration.  

Ted Cruz flew to Cancun the day I raided our burn pile for more firewood.  He flew back the day I raided it again.  A Houston Chronicle editorial blasted Cruz:

“Texans’ anger with Ted Cruz right now could power an entire electrical grid,  He plopped himself down on a direct flight to paradise and left us to fend for ourselves in this frozen hell.”

 I felt more than ignored by numerous Texas leaders.  

I felt utterly abandoned.  

I do thank the Lord for getting us through.

Update 2-24-21:  Texas energy executives are ecstatic over their huge profits while citizens suffered mightily.

Update 3-4-21:  What's left of the ERCOT board fired CEO Bill Magness. 

Update 3-17-21:  The Public Utility Commission lost its last remaining member today.  Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked for the final member's resignation after a call with Bank of America was made public.  At least 57 people died during the storm, most from hypothermia.   The Governor and Texas Legislature bear direct responsibility for creating the system that failed millions in a time of dire need.  The resigning member "doesn’t believe the Legislature will adopt sweeping changes to the deregulated market’s design because it’s too complicated and there are too many competing interests."

Update 3-20-21:  Fleeing Senator Ted Cruz plucked QAnon strings with his delusion that the Blue Team wants illegal aliens and child molesters to vote.  Teddy wants actual Americans kept from the polls so the Red Team can stay in power  Cruz wants to make it harder for Texans to vote, even though the Red Team owns the Governor's Mansion and State Legislature.  Piss poor leader. 

Update 3-21-21:  Neither the Texas Legislature nor the Texas Supreme Court chose to deal with Grid Failure.  Markets win, citizens lose.

A move in Texas to wipe out more than $4 billion in electricity overcharges from last month’s devastating blackouts appears dead in the water after deeply divided lawmakers left town without taking final action on the proposal.

Immunity from accountability wins, citizens lose. 

The all-Republican high court split 5 to 4, with the majority deciding that a legal technicality prevented it from weighing in on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s claim to governmental immunity in a case that predated the February disaster. As a result, a lower court ruling granting government immunity to Ercot stands for now.

Piss poor leaders gave Texans a system that not only failed millions but overcharged in a time of crisis.  That system remains firmly in place. 

Update 3-29-21:  Former CEO Bill Magness testified to Congress that ERCOT had no choice but to order rolling outages to prevent long-lasting damage to electric infrastructure.  We got outages, no rolling. 

Update 5-16-21:   The Texas Legislature nears its close with little done to date to address the Texas grid failure. A bill banning wholesale energy plans for residents will go to the Governor.  The House wants all Texans to pay the absurd bills generated by the failed system.  

"A newly-created Texas Electric Securitization Corp. would use the money raised from the fees for bonds to help pay the companies’ debts, including costs for ancillary services, a financial product that helps ensure power is continuously generated. The aid would only be allowed for the debt that would otherwise be defaulted." 

Update 5-29-21:  Rather than take responsibility for designing a market based system that failed millions in a brutal winter storm. the Texas Legislature wants citizens to pay the outrageous power bills that occurred during and after the power crisis ended.  They also plan for ERCOT's board to have fewer electricity experts and more political appointees.  

Forbes reported:

"A majority of respondents agreed that current laws and regulations in Texas are insufficient to tackle issues related to electric failures as experienced this past February."

WFAA reported

We’ve set up the ERCOT casino over on the side with a bunch of electricity and energy traders,” Hirs saidThat doesn’t exist in a regulated market...The big losers: the consumers. Almost 200 dead and $50 billion changing hands from the consumer side of the ledger to the consumer side. 

There are no lobbyists in Austin looking out for the consumer," Hirs added. "That's of course what the legislators are supposed to do…. 

Others say they also remain unsurprised by the failure of the Texas Legislature, with only days remaining before the end of the legislative session, to draft stronger measures to avoid another disastrous freeze. They blame the failure, in part, because of the ability of energy-related lobbyists to sway lawmakers. 

Update 5-31-21:  Bloomberg suggested the Texas Legislature failed to address the causes of the massive electricity grid failure in the midst of a brutal winter storm.  The series of bills "do little to fix the fundamental issues that made the state’s power grid so vulnerable."

The result is that Texas will continue to have the most isolated and least regulated power grid in the U.S., relying largely on market forces to keep the lights on for its 29 million residents. Analysts and others warn that makes the state exposed to another catastrophe.

Over 150 Texans paid with their lives.  Markets failed and Texas legislatures want citizens to pay exorbitant electricity and natural gas bills for the next 30 years. 

Update 6-15-21:  ERCOT is again warning power customers to conserve.  Energy plants are down and power may be in short supply.  

Update 6-20-21:  Texans found their thermostats raised remotely without their knowledge, much less permission.   ERCOT and ONCOR are clients of the firm that automatically adjusted thermostats.

Update 7-14-21:  The death toll from the winter storm rose to 210 people.

Update 8-4-21:  Texas officials received big donations from energy companies after the grid collapse.  I have yet to receive an apology for having to endure nearly five days without power in subfreezing conditions.

Update 9-6-21:  Only 28% of Texans approve of the Texas State legislature after they finished their summer session.  

Update 11-29-21:  Texas has done “next to nothing” to weatherize its natural gas supply which would result in major power outages should the state experience another long term freeze.

Update 2-2-22:  Texas Governor Gregg Abbott said ERCOT is ready for the coming winter storm. I don't want a repeat of last year's debacle, yet:

Plunging temperatures are poised to test the main Texas grid in coming days and expectations of record winter demand have already sent electricity prices for Friday surging. On-peak power for Ercot’s North hub closed at $800 for Feb. 4 on the Intercontinental Exchange, according to traders. 

Who will be served, citizens or profiteers?

Update 2-20-22:   Bloomberg reported "The death toll from Texas’s historic February 2021 freeze may have been four times higher than the state’s official count, according to a new analysis.  The Lone Star state tallied more than 1,000 deaths during the week-long storm that couldn’t be explained by Covid-19 or historical patterns."

Update 2-23-22:  ERCOT's Chief said Texas Governor Greg Abbott told him to charge the maximum during last year's deadly freeze.  Texas power customers are the ones paying for those maximum bills, Governor Abbott. 

Update 12-31-22:  Flyin' Lyin' Ted Cruz busted Biden for vacationing in the Caribbean.  I'll bust President Biden's chops for staying free at yet another policy making billionaire's vacation home and not reporting the gift on his financial disclosure form.  Cruz left me in the bitter cold and I am yet to get any apology for being without power for days.

Update 5-8-23:  Gov. Greg Abbott's Texas Department of Public Safety is yet to inform the public regarding the mass shooting at an Allen outlet mall.  It's been 48 hours since the gunman executed eight people with an AR-15 style assault rifle.  It is the 16th mass shooting in Texas thus far in 2023.

Update 6-25-23:  The Texas Supreme Court ruled ERCOT cannot be sued by citizens for its deadly failure to provide electricity to Texans in February 2021.

Update 7-11-23:  Texas fell out of the top 5 states to do business in part due to poor infrastructure.  CNBC cited the fragile electrical grid.