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Texas Energy Companies Face Legislative Probe of Deadly Power Outages

These energy companies have a lot of explaining to do…and quickly.

After a harrowing week in the heart of the Lone Star State, life is beginning to get back to normal…at least for some.

Winter Stom Uri created an unimaginable situation in Texas last week, bringing arctic temperatures and slippery precipitation to the usually-balmy state.  In anticipation of the trouble, several Texas power companies looked to execute rolling blackouts that they believed would keep the power grid from failing catastrophically.  Instead, much of Texas was plunged into darkness, leading to anger, death, and destruction after the attempt failed.

Now, state legislators are furious and demanding answers.

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Texas state lawmakers on Thursday started digging into the causes of deadly power blackouts that left millions shivering in the dark as frigid temperatures caught its grid operator and utilities ill-prepared for skyrocketing power demand.

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Hearings are highlighting shortcomings by grid planners, electric utilities, natural gas suppliers and transmission operators that led to billions of dollars in damages and dozens of deaths. Consumer advocates have called for more stringent regulation of utilities and a review of retail marketing plans.

“Who’s at fault?” State Representative Todd Hunter demanded of utility executives. “I want to hear who’s at fault. I want the public to know who screwed up.”

“The entire energy sector failed Texas,” said NRG Energy Inc Chief Executive Mauricio Gutierrez, who testified at the hearing.

Even the governor got in on it.

Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday said public anger was justified and pledged proposals to increase power supplies and to protect those residents hit with enormous power bills. He blamed ERCOT, saying it should have acted faster to prevent generators from falling offline.

At least two dozen Texans died during the disaster, including several whose demise could be traced directly back to the lack of heat and power.

This included the tragic story of a young boy whose parents are now taking litigious action against their energy provider.

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