We must never allow this to happen again. I recently laid out the consequences of such a catastrophic failure. I also called out those who are most responsible for allowing our power grid, once a source of Texas pride, to become decrepit and mismanaged.
Recognizing and holding them accountable is important and necessary, but it won’t fix the problem.
As Texas Agriculture Commissioner and a statewide elected leader, it is my duty to put forward solutions.The winter storms and the system failure of the grid had a profound impact on our farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers. Just as importantly, it has led to disruptions in our food supply, our water supply, and the prices that every Texan pays for some of life’s most important resources.
These costs and burdens cut across the rural/urban divide, across race, across political lines, and disproportionally hurt those that can least afford it.
The Texas P.O.W.E.R. Plan is a set of reforms for our grid and the institutions that we entrust with its reliable and efficient operations.
Texas must never again come close to the cliff we faced on February 15th. I hope these recommendations will move the conversation towards solutions for the benefit of all Texans.
Proper Oversight, Winterization, and Electricity Reform Plan
(The Texas P.O.W.E.R. Plan)
Members of ERCOT, PUC, and other regulatory entities must reside in and be legal residents of the state of Texas.
Winterization of coal, nuclear, gas, solar, hydro, and wind generation systems – we must make voluntary weatherization requirements mandatory.
Remove liability shields that prevent accountability in the power system.
Significantly increased storage capacity.
Shield Texas consumers from sudden price spikes cause by natural disasters, systemic failures, EMPs, and cyber-attacks.
Significantly increase accountability and oversight to empower regulators to impose compliance and sanction non-compliance on power generators and retail providers.
Enhance cyber-security measures to protect grid integrity.
Create a severe event early warning system to text important weather updates directly to Texas residents in a timely manner.
Review, modernize, and harden essential infrastructure to prevent weather, cyber, and EMP disruptions.
Expand and diversify Texas power to include more nuclear and hydro-power production.
Limit “maintenance downtime” for power producers to no more than 3% of the state’s total capacity and schedule downtime across the calendar year instead of stacking maintenance in late winter.
Incentivize back-up, localized power generation systems at essential facilities such as water treatment plants and hospitals.
Mandate a statewide contingency plan to be implemented when our unreliable sources go offline.
Create a memorandum of understanding with the military and National Guard to deploy their mobile generators to critical areas of the state.
It is important that we not only look backwards at the threats we have experienced like hurricanes and winter storms, but also recognize the growing threats of cyberwarfare and atmospheric electromagnetic pulses to which our grid is particularly vulnerable.Our statewide power grid should, once more, be a point of Texas pride and independence, as well as security. We need the flexibility and accountability to make these reforms and make our grid the envy of the world.
Therefore, I do not believe that connecting the Texas grid to one or both of the North American grids is in our long-term best interest.
Doing so would allow the federal government to regulate and impose burdens on behalf of Texas, adding another layer of bureaucracy to a system that needs to be more, not less, nimble and responsive.
Texas relies on inexpensive, abundant energy to fuel our economy, our job growth, and our very way of life. Governor Abbott and the state’s institutions failed us before, during, and after this storm.
However, it is essential that we keep our eye on the ball and focus on fixing the problems so that Texas is even stronger and more attractive than before.