U.S. House Oversight Committee investigating operator of Texas' power grid

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The U.S. Capitol on Jan. 12, 2021. Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

A U.S. House subcommittee is investigating the operator of Texas’ power grid for its role in leaving millions without electricity during the destructive winter storm that hammered the state two weeks ago.

U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote in a scathing letter addressed to Bill Magness, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ chief executive, that the grid’s failures were “costly” and disproportionately affected low-income and communities of color.

Khanna is requesting from ERCOT all documents related to preparations, a description of every power generator that experienced failures, and old documents that address the outages the state experienced in 1989 and 2011. The subcommittee asked ERCOT to fork over documents by March 17.

In the letter, Khanna also highlighted the known risk that climate change poses to the United States based on scientific evidence.

“The risk of increased extreme winter weather events in the United States underscores the need for adequate preparation. ERCOT and the State of Texas are well-aware of the weather predictions, yet you failed to prepare adequately for them,” Khanna said. “It is the hope of the Subcommittee that greater public attention and accountability will cause this cycle to change.”

The following Texans currently sit on the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform: U.S. Reps. Michael Cloud, R-Victoria, Pete Sessions, R-Waco, and Pat Fallon, R-Sherman.

The oversight committee is “the main investigative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives” and can investigate within its legislative jurisdiction as well as “any matter” within the jurisdiction of other standing committees, according to the committee’s website.

This developing story will be updated.