LETTER: Power outages draw questions

Yes, it was a record surpassing anything for more than 40 years. Yes it was unexpected, Yes, what with COVID-19, it couldn’t have come at a worse time and yes, millions of people were without power for extended periods in areas that have rarely experienced such a long period of near and below-freezing temperatures.

The question is, why?

One answer is, based on science and observations of weather patterns from the first 20 years of this century, what used to be extremes are now becoming more common. Something that those doubters of science and those profiteering from the status quo would not admit under threat of the Spanish Inquisition.

Another is, our state government agency ERCOT, while charged with protecting its citizens, seems to have been protecting only the utilities and their generation, transmission and distribution systems. Although it appears that ERCOT is very capable of telling utilities, after the fact, when to shut your power down to prevent the power grid from collapsing, it must be totally incompetent in not demanding that the state require the utilities provide sufficient generating and transmission capacity for areas where there is not sufficient local generation to cover even small emergencies.

Another answer to why lies squarely in the hands of our state government. In very recent times Texas has slowly been moving in the direction of green generation and should have had the most modern wind generators available. Yet during this emergency where were they? Offline due to icing. Who in government or the utilities forgot to require generation connected to our grids handle emergencies resulting from both excessive heat and cold? We have had them both in the Rio Grande Valley and most other areas of Texas.

Lastly, why do cities and counties that grant utilities franchises allow them to operate local substations and distribution systems that use old, outof- date equipment that cannot handle emergency loads without failing? Why must upgrades follow, not precede, disasters?

So, now that I have put myself directly in the sight of the ERCOT/AEP off switch, all I can do is ask that you contact ERCOT, your state senator and representative and ask the same questions..

Ned Sheats, Mission