One year after a deadly blackout killed more than 240 people across the state of Texas, a report issued today by Public Citizen finds that as utilities move at a snail’s pace on weatherization reforms, the politics of defending the state’s independent electrical grid have detracted from the complex work necessary to keep the lights on.
“The failure of the Texas energy grid last year and the human suffering it caused should resonate in every household in America,” said Alan Zibel, a Public Citizen researcher and the report’s author. “The fossil fuel industry and right wing think tanks built a spin machine directed at supporting fossil fuels at all cost. At a moment when renewable energy is increasingly competitive around the country, we must avoid letting the fossil fuel industry’s disingenuous playbook inhibit all-important progress on building the clean energy future.”
The report, Fossil Fictions, details the failures of natural gas equipment freezing when temperatures dropped into the single digits in February 2021, plunging parts of the state into darkness. The surge in demand for electricity and the plunge in availability of natural gas caused the widespread failures of electric generators, 58 percent of which were powered by natural gas.
“We got lucky with recent weather, but Texas still isn’t ready for another major winter storm. Beyond hoping for a warmer winter, Texas lawmakers have done little to improve the grid in the past year,” said Adrian Shelley, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “While some weatherization has taken place, Texas’ single-minded focus on opposing modest reforms to our state’s energy grid will prove foolish, if not deadly. The incessant finger-pointing after last year’s disaster succeeded in pushing the problem until the next Texas deep freeze.”
As blackouts unfolded across the state last year, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made a dash to Cancun, Texas Republicans rushed to falsely lay the blame for the outages on renewable energy. Further, serious professional analysis that uncovered shortcomings of natural gas energy power plants and pipeline owners was met with backlash and misinformation from fossil fuel lobbyists, editorial boards, and Fox News hosts.
Public Citizen has been calling on Texas officials to invest in local energy strategies to reduce demand on the grid. Texans can save energy and cut utility energy bills with energy efficiency investments like insulation, weather stripping, and heat their homes with fuel-efficient heat pumps.