Monday, October 18

Anger Rises Over Texas Blackouts As Freezing Cold Keeps Its Grip | Texas


Anger over the failure of the Texas power grid in the face of a record winter frost is mounting as millions of residents continued to shiver, with no guarantees that electricity and heat, which were cut for 36 hours or more in many homes, would return.

“I know people are angry and frustrated,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who woke up Wednesday to more than a million people who still had no power in his city. “I also.”

Between 2 and 3 million customers in Texas were still without power, nearly two full days after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge in demand for electricity to heat homes that weren’t used to such extreme lows. , bending the state’s power grid and causing blackouts. Meanwhile, people’s water pipes are about to burst and long lines have been engulfing grocery stores as people search for food.

Jasmine Mabute lives in the northwest Houston suburb of Bridgeland. Like many Texans right now, lack of power and heat is not their only concern. His own water pipes exploded Tuesday, cutting off the supply to his home.

“My mom called yesterday, she’s in the Philippines right now, and she said ‘make sure you fill some pots with water in case the water runs out.’ In my head I was like ‘Why is the water turned off?’

“Interestingly, I took a shower and 30 minutes later my brother tried to wash his hands and said there was no water.”

There is also now an official “boil the water” advisory in Houston, with growing concerns about the quality of drinking water. But people with electrical appliances cannot boil water due to lack of power.

The winter weather that has overwhelmed the power grids also maintains its grip on the mid-section of the nation.

At least 20 people have died across the country, some while struggling to find warmth inside their homes. In the Houston area, a family died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a car exhaust in their garage; another died after flames spread from his fireplace.

More than 100 million people live in areas covered by some type of winter weather advisory, watch or watch, as another winter storm hits Texas and parts of the South Plains, the National Weather Service said.

Utilities from Minnesota to Texas and Mississippi have implemented continuous blackouts to ease the load on power grids struggling to meet extreme demand for heat and electricity, as record low temperatures have been reported in city after city.

The weather has also threatened to affect the national Covid-19 vaccination effort. Joe Biden’s administration said there were likely to be delays in vaccine shipments and deliveries. After visiting Milwaukee on Tuesday, Biden said the weather was “as cold as the devil there.”

However, the worst power outages in the US have occurred in Texas, where officials requested 60 generators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and planned to prioritize hospitals and nursing homes. The state opened 35 shelters for more than 1,000 occupants, the agency said.

The collapse sparked mounting outrage and demands for answers about how Texas, whose Republican leaders as recently as last year mocked California for its ongoing blackouts, failed such a grand test of a major point of state pride: energy independence. .

Amber Nichols, whose North Austin home has had no power since early Monday morning, said: “We are all angry that there is no reason to leave entire neighborhoods frozen to death.”

Some also blame the polar vortex, a weather pattern that generally persists in the Arctic, but increasingly visits lower latitudes and remains beyond its welcome. Scientists say human-caused global warming could be partly responsible for their longer and more frequent leaks south.

But the severe winter storm, among some Republicans, has been used to open a new culture war around expanding renewable energy, which is a declared priority for Biden in addressing the climate crisis.

“This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” Greg Abbott, Republican Governor of Texas, told Fox News of an ambitious but unenforced plan to quickly phase out fossil fuels. “It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary for the state of Texas, as well as other states, to make sure that we will be able to heat our homes in the winter and cool our homes in the summer.”

Abbott’s attack contradicts operators of the Texas grid, which runs overwhelmingly on gas and oil, who have confirmed that low temperatures caused gas plants to shut down at the same time as a large increase in demand for heating. However, images of ice-covered wind turbines, taken in Sweden in 2014, were widely shared among conservatives on social media as proof of the fragility of clean energy.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congresswoman behind the Green New Deal platform, said Abbott was “blaming policies that it hasn’t even implemented for its own failures,” while the renewable energy industry also responded.

“It is shameful to see former clean power antagonists participate in a politically opportunistic charade by misleading Americans,” said Heather Zichal, executive director of the American Clean Power lobby.

Abbott appeared to have a more sobering view of the problem last day when it requested an investigation from the grid administrator, the Texas Electrical Reliability Council (Ercot). His outrage reached a very different tone than the day before, when he told Texans that Ercot was prioritizing residential customers and power was being restored to hundreds of thousands of homes.

“This is unacceptable,” Abbott said.

As politicians squabbled, travel continued to be discouraged across much of the country, with dangerous roads and thousands of canceled flights. Some of the deaths involve people dying in their cars in freezing temperatures. Many school systems have delayed or canceled face-to-face classes.

Authorities said a fire that killed three young children and their grandmother in the Houston area likely spread from the fireplace they were using to keep warm. In Oregon, authorities confirmed Tuesday that four people died in the Portland area of ​​carbon monoxide poisoning.

At least 13 children were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth and one parent died from the toxic fumes, hospital officials said.


www.theguardian.com

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