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Gov. Greg Abbott stated he and different state leaders are working quick to search out options for residence house owners and renters dealing with steep electrical energy payments after a winter storm left many Texans with out energy for days.
After Abbott convened what his workplace described as an “emergency assembly” Saturday with lawmakers to debate the problem, the Public Utility Commission on Sunday met to signal two orders, together with one that might direct power suppliers to briefly cease disconnecting clients from energy or water as a result of they haven’t paid.
The fee additionally signed an order to cease corporations from sending invoices or invoice estimates to clients “till we work by means of problems with how we’re going to financially handle the scenario we’re in,” fee chair DeAnn Walker stated.
“Disconnect for non pays can not happen on a Sunday and that’s why we’re performing right now at this hour is making an attempt to cease any from occurring tomorrow,” Walker stated earlier than the three-member fee accepted the orders.
Both Abbott and the fee’s assembly come as extra Texans are reporting receiving exorbitant electrical payments regardless of not having energy through the storm. One Texan, based on The New York Times, acquired a $16,752 electrical invoice. Not each resident will see the spikes of their payments.
Abbott, talking throughout a information convention Sunday in San Antonio, referred to as the current spike in power payments “the highest precedence for the Texas Legislature proper now” and stated lawmakers have been engaged on a bipartisan foundation to assist tackle the problem.
February Winter Storm 2021
When will my water come again? How can I get water within the meantime?
We have no idea. State and metropolis officers are urging persistence — and telling Texans who’ve operating water to boil it. Take no matter measures you might want to put together for a number of days with out water. Officials in Austin, for instance, stated Feb. 19 that restoring water companies would doubtless be a multiday course of for the entire metropolis. We have some assets right here, however your greatest wager to search out free water is to test your native media.
Will I get a big power invoice?
Maybe. People throughout the state have acquired massive power payments. One resident, based on The New York Times, acquired a $16,752 electrical invoice. Gov. Greg Abbott has stated his workplace is working with lawmakers to cut back payments. Not everybody will face large invoice spikes. Austin, for instance, has fastened base charges. If you’re apprehensive, test along with your utility supplier. Read extra right here.
How can I get updates?
Sign up for information updates from us by texting “howdy” to 512-967-6919 or visiting this web page.
I used to be with out energy for greater than a day. Why are individuals calling these rolling outages?
When the state’s electrical grid operator started implementing rolling outages at 1:25 a.m. CT on Feb. 15, these have been meant to be a brief measure to take care of an excessive winter occasion.
Instead, some Texans are going with out energy for for much longer, dealing with days with out electrical energy as an alternative of the initially deliberate 45 minutes at a time
The electrical energy grid was designed to be in excessive demand through the summer season, when Texans crank their air con at residence. But a few of the power sources that energy the grid through the summer season are offline through the winter. So when Texans stayed residence through the storm on Sunday and demanded report quantities of electrical energy, the state’s energy grid couldn’t sustain.
Wait, now we have our personal energy grid? Why?
Yes, Texas has its personal energy grid run by an company referred to as ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The historical past is lengthy, however the quick model is: Texas has its personal grid to keep away from coping with federal rules. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Power Act, which charged the Federal Power Commission with overseeing interstate electrical energy gross sales. But Texas’ utilities don’t cross state traces. ERCOT was shaped in 1970, within the wake of a serious blackout within the Northeast in November 1965, and it was tasked with managing grid reliability in accordance with nationwide requirements.
Note that Texas just isn’t all on this identical energy grid. El Paso is on one other grid, as is the higher Panhandle and a bit of East Texas.
I learn on-line that wind generators are the explanation we misplaced energy. Is that true?
No. The misplaced wind energy makes up solely a fraction of the discount in power-generating capability that has introduced outages to thousands and thousands of Texans.
An official with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas stated on February 16 that 16 gigawatts of renewable power era, principally wind era, have been offline. Nearly double that, 30 gigawatts, had been misplaced from thermal sources, which incorporates gasoline, coal and nuclear power.
“Texas is a gasoline state,” stated Michael Webber, an power assets professor on the University of Texas at Austin. “Gas is failing in essentially the most spectacular style proper now.”
How can I keep heat? How can I assist others?
The National Weather Service encourages individuals to shut blinds and curtains, collect in a single room if doable and shut doorways to others, and stuff towels within the cracks below the doorways. Wear loose-fitting layers of heat, light-weight clothes. Eating snacks and staying hydrated will assist to heat the physique up. Some cities are offering warming facilities and transportation as wanted — discover native assets right here. If you have got assets or are in a position to supply monetary donations, discover nonprofits who’re serving to individuals right here.
See extra protection
Along with Abbott, the heads of the Senate and House — Republicans Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, respectively — have been additionally a part of that Saturday assembly, as have been chairs of the budget-writing Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees, amongst others.
Later this week, House and Senate committees will convene to analyze how outages occurred and what roles entities just like the Electric Reliability Council of Texas performed in these energy failures.
“Thursday begins the questioning of the stakeholders concerned to search out out if something went fallacious, what went fallacious, who’s accountable, and extra importantly, what options shifting ahead we are able to do as a state Legislature … to verify this totally by no means occurs once more,” stated state Rep. Craig Goldman, a Fort Worth Republican who chairs the House Energy Resources Committee, throughout an NBC-DFW interview that aired Sunday.
Jolie McCullough contributed to this report.
Disclosure: New York Times has been a monetary supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan information group that’s funded partly by donations from members, foundations and company sponsors. Financial supporters play no position within the Tribune’s journalism. Find an entire checklist of them right here.