February 21 is the seventh day since the winter storm hit Texas. Although the storm left on the evening of the 19th, the crisis caused by the power and water outages in Texas is far from over. In post-disaster relief efforts, Texas is now having to seek help from the federal government, other states and humanitarian organizations, and millions of people are still struggling with basic livelihoods. As the largest energy producing state in the United States and home to many large energy companies around the world, Texas fell into an energy crisis of this scale due to a winter storm, which raised doubts about the state’s ability to respond to the crisis.
On February 20th, local time, due to the extreme cold weather in Texas, the United States, the water and electricity supply in some areas was tight. Rodney Roberts, who lives in Texas, fet water from his swimming pool to flush the toilet.
In fact, the winter storm came two days before the Texas government declared a state of emergency in all 254 counties two days in advance, warning residents to be prepared. Many have stockpiled food and water, wrapped up the plumbing valves in their homes, government agencies and nonprofits have opened large convention centers to accommodate those in need, and the governor has also deployed National Guard assistance.
All the disaster response seems to be ready. However, when the temperature dropped sharply at 2 a.m. on the 15th and the ice and snow raged, the crisis facing Texas broke out: most of the power grid was frozen and the public water supply system collapsed. More than 4 million users were powered off on the evening of the 16th, and people spent at least 48 hours on candles and quilts in cold houses. By the night of the 18th, about half of the state’s residents (14 million people) were without water, and hospital staff gathered rain outdoors and people queued up in front of park faucets to pick up water. On the night of the 19th, the storm Leaving, the next day, supermarket food was out of stock, hardware store water pipes and other accessories were in short supply, and the price of water and electricity repair soared. So far, abnormally cold weather has killed at least 35 people in Texas.
How did a winter storm plunge an important energy town in the United States into such a large-scale crisis?
First, the independent power grid established by Texas is the crux of the crisis’s failure to be quickly resolved. Texas’ independent power grid was established in the middle of the century. Its design was mainly due to the avoidance of federal regulation by Texas utility companies. It is such an island-like power grid system that after being largely paralyzed in the face of a sudden cold wave, it was unable to seek help from the power grids in the United States and the West, causing a huge gap in power supply, triggering the Texas Electricity Reliability Commission (ERCOT) to take turns to cut off power, causing millions of people to suffer power outages at the same time.
Second, the U.S. energy industry is deeply involved in Texas legislation and government policies. In 2002, Texas lawmakers deregulated the state’s energy market. This gives energy producers room for manoeuvre, which save hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and avoids the construction of cold-proof facilities for power generation systems that could have prevented the crisis.
As for how does the energy industry affect state legislation and government? According to the Associated Press, a data from the National Institute of Political Funding can be seen: more than $26 million in political contributions from the oil and gas industry, more than any other industry, Governor of Texas and Republican Abbott.
Third, the storm caused the failure of Texas’s traditional, clean energy generation equipment. Among them, clean energy generation exposed shortcomings: solar and wind power generation could not ensure adequate supply in bad weather. Many climate scientists predict that extreme weather events will increase. This means that clean energy power plants will face major challenges in whether they can operate in extreme weather.