OPINION: When citizens freeze, Texas turns a cold shoulder

OPINION: When citizens freeze, Texas turns a cold shoulder

Carlos Guzman, Staff Writer

Under Greg Abbott’s complacency, the “once in a blue moon” winter disaster could happen again if the full provisions aren’t made to upgrade the state’s power grid to withstand a disaster. Although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict a warmer winter for Texas, the state’s government should use this time to make proper adjustments to the power grid. Despite that, the latest provisions aren’t enough to prevent a repeat incident of the 2021’s winter storm.

The primary reason why Texas’ power grid suffered was due to frozen gas lines. Although new regulations were implemented, the state government passed up mandates to improve gas and oil wells. With so much of Texas’ power load relying on fossil fuels, their failure pulled out the carpet.

From Amarillo to Houston, nearly every Texan suffered – through loss of life or property. The state government received a from citizens wanting to prevent this disaster from happening again.

If the thousands of frustrated voices weren’t enough for the state of Texas to learn its lesson on having antiquated infrastructure, then the Federal Reserve’s $130 billion damage estimate should sway our state’s leaders to do better.

However, the state government only implemented half-measures for infrastructure providers – who were at the receiving end of backlash from Texas citizens after the storm left 210 dead and thousands more with extensive property damage.

According to Abbott, “everything was done to fix the power grid in Texas” upon passing Senate Bill 3. But writing a loophole allowing natural gas providers, the state’s main source of power, to opt out of winterization requirements clearly isn’t enough. The bill read that

Thanks to massive deregulation since 1999, power providers only suit the state’s standards for electrical reliability. Whereas the United States runs on two separate, interconnected grids, Texas’ power grid is privatized, meaning that we’re up to the mercy of a corporations when it comes to electrical options.

And as we’ve all come to recognize, corporations like to cut corners where they can. Sadly, the consequences for doing so were at our expense.

I was among the fortunate few to still have working plumbing and electricity during the freeze. However, I can’t say the same for my neighbors. On one side of my street, I observed my neighbor dig up their flooded lawn to repair a burst pipe. On the opposite end, my neighbors complained that the frozen roads stopped them from going out for food.

When the ice finally melted, our complaints brewed a political sandstorm. Texans urged its leaders to provide a fast resolution to this catastrophe.

Instead, Senator Ted Cruz showed us how fast he can flee to Cancun during the crisis.

It seems that taking responsibility is too difficult for our representatives. They were quite eager to prop, utilizing the crisis as a political tool.

After that, the collective effort to make our state’s leaders prevent another incident was lost on their corporate agendas. Their inaction is openly enabling the crisis to repeat itself next time Texas freezes over.

According to ERCOT, the power grid was 4 minutes and 23 seconds away from total failure. If the grid exceeded that limit, then we would’ve witnessed blackouts for weeks to come.

We barely avoided disaster by a miracle, but it’s clear that our leaders refuse to learn their lesson. In a 2011 report, the Federal Electrical Regulatory Commission warned about failing to winterize, but the state’s government hasn’t done so as it doesn’t compliment the corporate market our power grid was deregulated for.

Texas suffered from leaders who prioritized their wallets. And if they keep it up, all it takes is one storm to plunge the state into crisis. The state is due for a leader that can heed the disaster warnings and adapt accordingly for our sake. If we want politicians who truly care about us, we need to direct our ire to the elections.

During the freeze, the internet featured image compilations of various stores’ plumbing aisles packed with people. Our polls need to look the same when we’re given the option for a politician who can build up better infrastructure.

When the time comes to cast your vote, remember who denied you a spot at the campfire.

– Carlos Guzman is an English major and Staff Writer for the Et Cetera.