Last week’s severe winter weather left millions without electricity, heat, and drinkable water. Now, they want answers over who may have dropped the ball when it came to being prepared for such a scenario.
Yet Texans who hoped to get some of those answers during the opening day of committee hearings in both the Texas House of Representatives and Senate will likely be disappointed.
Announced last week, both Speaker of the House Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick scheduled committee hearings to investigate the shortfalls and the contributing factors to the response to the statewide electrical blackouts. Those hearings began Thursday morning and, as of publishing, are still ongoing. The House convened a joint hearing between the Energy Resources and State Affairs Committee, while the Senate convened a hearing with the Business and Commerce Committee.
The meetings were composed of invited testimony only. The invitees ranged from the CEO of Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the chair of the Public Utility Commission to individual leaders within private power generators; all gave their insights as to what did or did not happen in response to the ongoing weather catastrophe.
Much of the testimony thus far, however, has appeared more like posturing rather than meaningful culpability taken by any particular individual.
Curt Morgan, the CEO of nuclear power generator Vistra, said ERCOT “acted with a lack of urgency to appreciate the weather event.”
ERCOT CEO Bill Magness, conversely, largely avoided taking any blame, instead saying ERCOT’s actions were largely taken to avoid a catastrophic failure of the power grid that would have left customers without power for weeks.
“We were solving problems, but I think we should have been talking more to people about what this was starting to look like,” said Magness, arguing that a lack of communication was one of the council’s biggest shortcomings.
Few lawmakers have taken the opportunity to ask in-depth, investigative questions that would produce substantial answers.
The Texas Senate is scheduled to continue its investigation on Friday.