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How Texas's Power Grid Failed

Power lines are shown in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Power lines are shown in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Texas is the biggest energy producing state in the U.S. But this week’s frigid weather crashed the system. So what happened? We look into the state’s vulnerable power grid and how we make it better.


Yasmine Smith, justice and advocacy director for the Austin Urban League. (@AAULTX)

Joshua Rhodes, research associate at the University of Texas at Austin. (@joshdr83)

Emily Grubert, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. (@emilygrubert)

From The Reading List

Texas Tribune: “Texas was “seconds and minutes” away from catastrophic monthslong blackouts, officials say” — “Texas’ power grid was ‘seconds and minutes’ away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months, officials with the entity that operates the grid said Thursday.”

New York Times: “A Plan to Future-Proof the Texas Power Grid” — “As the power crisis in Texas stretches into its fifth day, the blame game is well underway.”

The Hill: “Cruz says ‘it was a mistake’ to go to Cancun amid Texas arctic blast” — “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Thursday that “it was a mistake” to go to Cancun while many Texan households were without power in the midst of freezing winter storms.”

Texas Tribune: “‘What happened is completely unacceptable’: Gov. Greg Abbott calls for winterization of Texas energy system” — “Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday blasted the nonprofit operator of Texas’ energy grid for its handling of this week’s winter storm and called on the Legislature to consider updates to the state’s power plants to avoid future widespread power outages.”

Associated Press: “Some electricity restored in Texas, but water woes grow” — “Power was restored to more homes and businesses Thursday in states hit by a deadly blast of winter that overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions shivering in the cold this week. But the crisis was far from over in parts of the South, where many people still lacked safe drinking water.”

Quartz: “Were the Texas blackouts inevitable?” — “Rolling blackouts that left millions in Texas without power this week were the result of a perfect storm—and not just the one that sent temperatures into the single digits.”

Houston Chronicle: “Perry says Texans willing to suffer blackouts to keep feds out of power market” — “Former Texas governor Rick Perry suggests that going days without power is a sacrifice Texans should be willing to make if it means keeping federal regulators out of the state’s power grid.”

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