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'Really want to get to the bottom of this': Valley lawmakers weigh in ahead of hearings on Texas power outages

6 days 13 hours 56 minutes ago Tuesday, February 23 2021 Feb 23, 2021 February 23, 2021 7:38 AM February 23, 2021 in News - Local

An investigation into the collapse of the state’s power grid is set to start in Austin this week.

On Thursday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the Railroad Commission and the Public Utilities Commission will answer to lawmakers in Austin on what happened last week when power went out for millions of Texans following severe winter weather.

RELATED: Gov. Abbott declares ERCOT reform an emergency item this legislative session  

State Rep. Oscar Longoria (D-Mission) will be present for the House Energy Resource Committee hearing.

“I really want to get to the bottom of this,” Longoria said. “What happened, how this could have been prevented, who could have made decisions to make sure this didn’t occur, and then going forward, what needs to happen, what needs to be done to make sure we don’t face an energy situation like we did over the last couple of days?”

Part of the discussion will be how much authority ERCOT has over power providers. In Weslaco, State Rep. Armando "Mando" Martinez (D-Weslaco) says it needs to be more.

READ ALSO: ERCOT says without power outages, a blackout could've lasted for months  

“You can’t allow private, for-profit companies making decisions on our electrical grid,” Martinez said. “This was put in place years ago. It’s something that we need to stop, and I think it’s something that we need to really take action and say that: When it comes to prices and making decisions about our grid, it cannot be a private company—this has to be the government.”

Part of the discussion will also be the future of winterization. ERCOT largely blamed the failures of nearly 200 plants and pipelines on weather freezes.

“I believe it’s incumbent upon private industry to do it,” said State Rep. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg). “I don’t think it’s the legislature’s duty to subsidize and start paying taxpayer money to winterize plants. I think, if you want to do business in Texas, winterize your plants. We can pass those statutes. We can make it a requirement that if you’re going to do business here. The legislature can do it.”

READ ALSO: Abbott calls for ERCOT leaders to resign— energy experts weigh in on Texas energy crisis  

The House Energy Committee and the House State Affairs Committee will hold hearings, as well as the Senate Business and Commerce Committee.

Texas residents can also sign up to make public comments. Sign up here

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