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Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday held a meeting with other state leaders to discuss the spikes some Texans are seeing in their energy bills following a massive winter storm that prompted dayslong power outages across the state.
The meeting came after numerous reports of Texans receiving exorbitant electric bills despite not having power during the storm. One Texan, according to The New York Times, received a $16,752 electric bill. Not every resident will see the spikes in their bills.
In a statement, Abbott called the meeting productive and said leaders “are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions.” The meeting took place via phone conference call.
February Winter Storm 2021
When will my water come back? How can I get water in the meantime?
Will I get a large energy bill?
How can I get updates?
I was without power for more than a day. Why are people calling these rolling outages?
The electricity grid was designed to be in high demand during the summer, when Texans crank their air conditioning at home. But some of the energy sources that power the grid during the summer are offline during the winter. So when Texans stayed home during the storm on Sunday and demanded record amounts of electricity, the state’s power grid could not keep up.
Wait, we have our own power grid? Why?
Note that Texas is not all on this same power grid. El Paso is on another grid, as is the upper Panhandle and a chunk of East Texas.
I read online that wind turbines are the reason we lost power. Is that true?
An official with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said on February 16 that 16 gigawatts of renewable energy generation, mostly wind generation, were offline. Nearly double that, 30 gigawatts, had been lost from thermal sources, which includes gas, coal and nuclear energy.
“Texas is a gas state,” said Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “Gas is failing in the most spectacular fashion right now.”
How can I stay warm? How can I help others?
Along with Abbott, the heads of the Senate and House — Republicans Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, respectively — were also on the call.
Members of the two chambers also participated in the meeting, including chairs of the budget-writing Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees, as well as chairs of the Senate Business and Commerce and House Energy Resources committees.
The discussion with lawmakers, according to the governor’s office, centered on calculating the cost of those skyrocketing energy bills and “how the state can help reduce this burden.”
Abbott’s office has also announced Sunday that the governor would give an update at 2:30 p.m. Central time on the efforts to get water and other supplies to communities across the state.
Later this week, House and Senate committees will convene to investigate how outages happened and what roles entities like the Electric Reliability Council of Texas played in those power failures.
“Thursday begins the questioning of the stakeholders involved to find out if anything went wrong, what went wrong, who’s to blame, and more importantly, what solutions moving forward we can do as a state Legislature … to make sure this absolutely never happens again,” said state Rep. Craig Goldman, a Fort Worth Republican who chairs the House Energy Resources Committee, during an NBC-DFW interview that aired Sunday
Disclosure: New York Times has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.