County officials manage cold
By John Meng
A week of freezing temperatures and seemingly selective power outages created a series of unique problems for county and city officials and crews last week.
“This was a difficult week, but we persevered,” said Jackson County Judge Jill Sklar. “I, like many other local leaders in Texas, spent a good bit of time voicing concerns and demanding answers for the unequal distribution of electricity. It was maddening at times. We still have not gotten complete answers, but we will continue to ask questions to make sure this does not happen again. I am immensely proud of how our residents and leaders worked together.
I saw many examples of not only, one community helping another and neighbor helping neighbor, but also stranger helping stranger. This is what makes Jackson County so great.”
According to Edna City Manager Gary Broz, city residents never lost their water supply, but part of the city lost electric power due to the grid shut down.
Broz commented that the problem was never from downed power lines from icy conditions or even American Electric Power (AEP) which maintains the electric infrastructure for many parts of the city and county.
“I worked many years in the power industry and I still don’t why or how ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas). How you put one customer’s power on but another customer. I can’t explain it,” said Broz. “I’m asking questions. But AEP says they cannot turn the power on because ERCOT said ‘no.’”
“The new challenge ahead is ensuring the tax money that we have paid to the federal government gets returned to our county. I have filed and submitted to the Texas Department of Emergency Management a Declaration of Disaster for Jackson County and I will continue to advocate to State and Federal leaders that Jackson County residents must be able to get reimbursed for out-of-pocket damages they personally incurred during this winter storm,” added Sklar.
Apparently, the problems created by ERCOT and more than 70 weather- and/or power-loss related deaths in Texas last week has resulted in calls to reform ERCOT.
Invest Texas Council (ITC) Chairman Ron Simmons released a statement after Governor Abbott added three emergency items to his legislative agenda this session in order to reform the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and ensure Texas has a more robust infrastructure:
“In the wake of last week’s massive power outages and water disruptions, Governor Abbott is right to place the issue on forefront of the legislature’s agenda, and we are confident that the Governor and Legislature, as well as all stakeholders, will provide clarity on the causes of last week’s unprecedented challenges. As this natural disaster has made clear, there is a need to examine our state’s power infrastructure to determine what we can do to ensure this situation is unlikely to be repeated.”
“The extended power shortages during the extreme cold that hit Texas last week exposed deficiencies in our power infrastructure. Whatever the causes – perhaps the lack of weatherization, frozen water pipes, trees downed on distribution lines, too much base load generation decommissioned for a variety of reasons -- had there been more infrastructure, perhaps we would have had needed redundancy in the system to prevent the shortages and outages."
“The Invest Texas Council believes that more private investment in our state infrastructure across the board – roads, power, water, broadband and many other areas – is essential. By partnering with and encouraging the private sector, Texas can build out its infrastructure in the most efficient and effective way possible and ensure our needs are met to keep Texas the premier economy in the nation.”