Power Outages and Blackouts Continue to Affect Texas

Many businesses and homes in Texas have lost power, unsure of when it will return.

Photo via wikimedia commons under creative commons license

Many businesses and homes in Texas have lost power, unsure of when it will return.

Gabriella Larsen, Staff writer

The state of Texas is currently facing weather conditions unlike anything they have ever experienced. Nearly weeks after historic Winter Storm Uri, Texas remains snow-covered and in temperatures lower than in parts of Alaska, and the state remains in several crises. The storm was powerful enough to shut down Texas’s independent power grid, causing statewide blackouts in more than 500,000 homes and businesses. Pipes are freezing and bursting, and carbon-monoxide-poisoning cases are rising as people are trying to find alternative heat sources. Many areas have also began to face water and gas shortages, with water freezing as soon as it comes out of the faucet. 

Homes and buildings in Texas are being especially affected because they are built with no insulation, as they are designed to release heat, not retain it. Electrical outages have been caused by a few overlapping factors. Texas’s power grid could not meet the demand of many people trying to heat their homes at once, and was not equipped to handle a snowstorm. The power-grid runs on natural gas, which is even harder to get in the winter. When the storm hit, the supply fell as demand rose to higher levels than ever before. The freeze of Texas strained, and pretty much halted production of every form of energy. On top of this, Texas is the only state that operates its own power grid, which makes it not subject to federal regulation that could have better prepared the state for these weather conditions. As a result, millions of households have lost power. Public officials are still unsure of when power will return to the state. 

Government officials submitted requests for a Federal Emergency Declaration, in hopes of getting aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which the White House approved. Many aspects of how Texas is run are being criticized during this time, with Representative James Talarico attributing the outages underinvestment and neglect. 

Tim Boyd, the mayor of a small town in West Texas, posted a status on Facebook saying: “No one owes you or your family anything. Nor is it the local governments responsibility to support you during times like this!” This bleak statement sparked controversy and criticism, and it led to his resignation.

President Joe Biden plans to travel to Texas this Friday, Feb. 26 as the state continues to suffer. These plans have coincided with fallout over Senator Ted Cruz’s decision to fly from Texas to Cancun during these times. Amid these crises, officials are attempting to help, but a definite end to these problems remains unclear.