Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan called Tuesday for a joint legislative hearing into the statewide blackouts that have left millions without power in the middle of a generational Arctic freeze.
“The extreme winter weather Texas experienced this week caused the lights to go off across the Lone Star State,” the Republican speaker said in a statement.
Mr. Phelan asked the House State Affairs and House Energy committees to hold a joint hearing on Feb. 25 “for the express purpose of helping Texans understand what went wrong and how we can prevent these conditions from happening again.”
At least four million Texans were without power Tuesday as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) implemented controlled outages to protect the grid from crashing from the record surge in demand as temperatures plunged to near zero in some areas.
The utility said the problems included “frozen wind turbines and limited gas supplies,” and announced that it planned to restore electricity to some households Tuesday after bringing back power to 500,000 households on Monday.
“We should be able to restore some customers this afternoon due to additional wind & solar output, & additional thermal generation that has told us they expect to become available,” ERCOT tweeted Tuesday. “But, the amount we restore will depend on how much generation is actually able to come online.”
Gov. Greg Abbott deployed the National Guard on Monday to conduct welfare checks and usher endangered residents to the 135 “warming centers” set up by state and local governments.
“Due to the severe weather and freezing temperatures across our state, many power companies have been unable to generate power, whether it’s from coal, natural gas, or wind power,” Mr. Abbott said Monday. “ERCOT and the PUC are working non-stop to restore power supply.”
The state’s increased reliance on wind energy has come under scrutiny during the freeze. About 23% of the Texas grid is powered by wind, outstripping coal last year as the second-largest generator of electricity after the retirement of several coal-fired plants, and trailing only natural gas.
“We must cut through the finger-pointing and hear directly from stakeholders about the factors that contributed to generation staying down at a time when families needed it most, what our state can do to correct these issues, and what steps regulators and grid operators are taking to safeguard our electric grid,” Mr. Phelan said.