With Texas legislators soon beginning hearings about the state’s power grid failure during Winter Storm Uri, Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Salado, referred to the subsequent power outages as “dangerous.”
“The outages were more than inconvenient — they were dangerous,” Buckley said via email.
Buckley, who represents the 54th District in Texas, which covers Killeen, parts of western Bell County and all of Lampasas County, said he and his family also experienced the outages firsthand.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which manages the flow of power to more than 26 million Texans, authorized suppliers, such as Oncor, to conduct “rolling outages” in the early hours of Feb. 15, when temperatures and wind chills dipped into or near the single digits.
Not long after beginning the “rolling outages,” power suppliers like Oncor referred to them as “controlled outages.”
At its peak, nearly 20,000 customers in Killeen and nearly 9,000 customers in Copperas Cove were without power. Some residents in Copperas Cove reported losing power as early as Feb. 13.
In response to the outages, area cities established warming centers to provide residents relief from the bitter temperatures.
As the weather began to break and the demand for electricity was no longer in critical levels, power began being restored to customers on Thursday.
“The elderly, the infirmed, and young children were at great risk due to the failures of our power grid,” Buckley said.
Legislators will begin hearings about the power grid this Thursday.
Buckley said he is “looking forward” to the hearings, which should include testimony from officials with ERCOT; the Railroad Commission, which oversees gas pipelines in the state; and the Public Utility Commission, which oversees utility infrastructure.
“It is important that we make certain that Texas has a clear policy moving forward for reliable electric power that Texans can trust,” Buckley said.
The state’s power grid was crippled by another winter storm in 2011.
In that year, a report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. warned state leaders more winterization of the power grid was needed, The Texas Tribune reported.
“I stand ready to make sure our power generators winterize properly and that our system contemplates every type of harsh and even unexpected weather event,” Buckley said, who was not in office in 2011.
Buckley was first elected to state office in 2018.
“In a highly regulated industry such as power generation, we must create the right incentives that drive our power generators to make the proper investments to ensure that we have the necessary capacity for the growth of Texas and the unforeseen events in the future,” Buckley said.
Despite experiencing the outages firsthand, and hearing stories of several constituents who were out of power, Buckley said he was proud of the resilience he saw.
“Neighbor helped neighbor and others went out of their way to provide transportation to warming centers, deliver water and other supplies, and take care of each other,” he said.
Buckley said his constituents deserve to know that Texas has a “safe and reliable” power grid and that he will work hard this session to “make sure it comes to pass.”
FME News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.