Texas Power Outage: What you need to know

Riley Baerg

Au unprepared Texas power grid stands still. (Image courtesy of NBC News)

This February brought Washington’s most recent snow storm;  the oversized flurry shut down Bellarmine’s in-person school attendance. The storm was followed by many households’ power outages; a U.S. News report stating that around 270,000 people in the Northwest experienced an outage.

Other states affected by this seemingly nationwide cooling were not as fortunate. The more southern states, Texas in particular, were not prepared and not used to the snow that is likely the result of accelerated climate change and its physical effects. The families of faced a terrifying dilemma when hundreds of thousands of homes proved not to be weatherized and ready for such a deep freeze. The frightening effect of this change of weather is not only detrimental to the homes but surrounding power grids. This winter storm and its effective blackouts in the state of Texas have struck up many means of controversy. Colorado City, Texas mayor Tim Boyd’s Facebook post quickly went viral after he claimed that, “only the strong would survive,” the public official resigning shortly after. The state’s situation not getting any better after its senator Ted Cruz and his family escaped on vacation, the trip to Cabo threatening his accountability.

Public scrutiny of the way Texas is handling its situation is nothing less than lackluster. The recently updated death toll now stands at a harrowing 86 Americans, most of which come from smaller counties that lack medical experts and examiners. Though it is not totally clear how each of the people passed, it is believed that they are all closely linked to the complications brought about by the storm. The total of the death toll will likely take multiple weeks to tally and will most likely never be completely accurate. Narratives and local news stations around the country now recount the means of heating people resorted to when unable to utilize their heaters. A report of house fire in Austin claimed the lives of three after incinerating items in their households to stay warm. During that week of Feb. 15, a woman and her child passed away due to carbon monoxide poisoning. The woman used her in an attempt to reheat their house.

Senior Allen Lo weighed in on the crisis saying, “It’s upsetting and unsettling to see these families go through this storm. With these changing climates, who is to say a storm like this wouldn’t hit Washington?” Luckily, most Washington homes are more likely to be prepared to fight a deep freeze, yet coexisting with such a cold is no way to live, except for fans of the snow.

Some important questions have and must be raised about this situation, a common inquiry is how these outages came to be. A study done by the Texas Tribune stated that the crisis stemmed from the inability for gas power plants to generate power. A number of different factors played into the shut down of the plants including shortages on fuel and the components of the plant and power grid itself freezing in the frigid conditions. Because of the outage, a whopping 52,000 megawatts of power was lost. To put that into perspective, there are nearly twelve million homes in the state of Texas and the lost power was enough to power all of those houses five-fold. These power issues also did a number on the oil and gas monopoly that Texas leads, this storm effectively opening the door for other countries to capitalize off the inability to export as many barrels of oil. Needless to say, this storm has cost Texas all over the board. With these coming weeks being crucial to its citizens, hopefully there can be a change to the energy industry to acclimate to the changing weather the world has to offer.