Arlington, TX – On February 14, Texas was hit with the worst snowstorm in its history, with temperatures reaching historic lows of 6 degrees Fahrenheit. Although these temperatures are not uncommon across the contiguous United States, this situation has had a severe effect in Texas. Texas is behind several states when it comes to dealing with frigid temperatures because of poor infrastructure.
On February 11 at least six people died on Interstate 35 due to a 130-plus car pileup. The pileup occurred due to slippery conditions on the interstate. This catastrophic accident occurred because of poor maintenance and a lack of a contingency plan to deal with sleet. Over the course of the week, snow and ice have piled up several inches, adding to an intense breakdown of state infrastructure.
ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) reported there are rolling blackouts across the state resulting as the state attempted to distribute power. Natural gas and coal plants that provide power across the state are breaking down. The instruments and equipment used to distribute power have apparently frozen over since they lack maintenance and are in general inoperable during freezing temperatures. The rolling blackouts have rendered millions across the state without electricity.
It should be noteworthy that Texas is the largest energy producing state in the entirety of the U.S. but ironically is in crisis. Some windmills and wind turbines have frozen over as well, which is another significant reason for the loss in power. ERCOT reportedly had to rely on the rolling blackouts because the national power distribution supply network disconnected the power supply to the natural gas and coal plants in Texas to avoid the market price of natural gas from spiking and hence avoid losses. The state was forced to open warming centres because of these rolling blackouts.
Across the state of Texas blackouts have ravaged households. Electricity, gas, water and internet are in short supply across homes in the state. These homes are poorly insulated, resulting in high heat loss. Older houses have also faced burst pipes. Austin, Houston and Dallas have reportedly had fluctuating power throughout this emergency, with uneven distribution between richer and poorer neighborhoods. The Dallas American Airlines Center called for a decrease in power conservation to allow the Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks to continue with their games in the following days and have faced backlash from people online because of this.
Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that the supply network hasn’t broken down completely, which is contrary to the present scenario. The ERCOT’s board members reside out of state and have openly said that they do know when the power outages will be over.
The state of Texas must take action to deal with this crisis because about 4 million lives are at stake. Politicians must prioritize the lives of the people instead of profiteering during this time.
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