Texas House speaker calls for hearing on widespread outages

Dade Phelan wants House State Affairs and Energy Resources committees to hold joint hearing

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AUSTIN, Texas – Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan on Tuesday requested that the House State Affairs and Energy Resources committees hold a joint hearing to review the factors that led to megawatts of electric generation being dropped off the ERCOT system and the subsequent statewide blackouts that affected millions of Texans across the state.

“The extreme winter weather Texans experienced this week caused the lights to go off across the Lone Star State,” Phelan said. “I’m asking these two vital committees to convene a joint hearing on February 25th for the express purpose of helping Texans understand what went wrong and how we can prevent these conditions from happening again. We must cut through the finger-pointing and hear directly from stakeholders about the factors that contributed to generation staying down at a time when families needed it most, what our state can do to correct these issues, and what steps regulators and grid operators are taking to safeguard our electric grid.”

Approximately 34,000 megawatts of power has been forced off the ERCOT system during the winter storm, while only 2,500 megawatts were restored as of Monday afternoon, ERCOT officials said. Utility companies across the state were asked Monday to shed approximately 14,000 megawatts of load, according to the news release.

Phelan is the second high-ranking Texas official to call for an investigation into ERCOT.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday declared the reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) an emergency item this legislative session. In declaring this item an emergency, Abbott is calling on the legislature to investigate ERCOT and ensure Texans never again experience power outages on the scale they have seen over the past several days.

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.