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What We Know About The Texas Power Grid Blackouts, And How It Compares To California

Pike Electric service trucks line up after a snow storm on February 16, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Pike Electric service trucks line up after a snow storm on February 16, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

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Anger over Texas’ power grid failing in the face of a record winter freeze continued to mount Wednesday as millions of residents in the energy capital of the U.S. remained shivering with no assurances that their electricity and heat — out since Monday in many homes — would return soon or stay on once it finally does.

“I know people are angry and frustrated,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday. “So am I.”

In all, nearly 3 million customers in Texas still had no power Wednesday after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge in demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state’s power grid and causing widespread blackouts. A large swath of Texas was under yet another winter storm warning Wednesday.

Making matters worse: Expectations that the outages would be a shared sacrifice by the state’s 30 million residents quickly gave way to a cold reality, as pockets in some of America’s largest cities, including San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, were left to shoulder the lasting brunt of a catastrophic power failure, and in subfreezing conditions that Texas’ grid operators had known was coming.


James (Jim) Bushnell, professor of economics at UC Davis where his research focuses on energy and environmental economics, industrial organization and regulation, and energy policy; he has served as a member of the Market Surveillance Committee (MSC) of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) since 2002 and is the former research director of the University of California Energy Institute in Berkeley

Nicholas Abi-Samra, professor of electrical engineering at UC San Diego; he is president of Electric Power & Energy Consulting (EPEC), an independent consulting firm that works with the electric utility industry;  he is the author of the book, “Power Grid Resiliency for Adverse Conditions” (Artech, 2017)