February 15, 2022
Local electeds across the state sound the alarm on the work still needed to help communities and avoid repeat of failed storm response
AUSTIN, TX — This week, more than 30 local leaders signed an open letter calling for a massive overhaul of Texas’ energy infrastructure, and numerous cities across the state have passed proclamations recognizing the actions of community organizers, volunteers, and essential workers who provided mutual aid during the winter storm and the months after.
The letter and proclamations coincide with the anniversary of winter storm Uri, when the state’s heavily unregulated and disconnected electricity grid failed and left millions of Texans stranded without power, heat, or water during record-breaking snow and freezing temperatures. Working families and communities of color were hit the hardest, experiencing astronomically high energy bills, damage to their homes, and weeks without water.
“Just two weeks ago, Texans braced themselves for another extreme cold front, and many feared another blackout. And again, our own Governor could not ensure we were safe from power outages,” said Adam Bazaldua, Dallas City Councilmember. “We were lucky that the storm was not as severe as Uri but it’s clear that our state leaders are not prioritizing the people of Texas.”
“Texans suffered in freezing weather last year, some losing their lives to Winter Storm Uri. We must hold those in power accountable and do everything we can to prevent a future crisis of this nature,” said Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee.
The letter lists demands from local leaders and communities from across the state, including the decentralization of the state’s power grid, creation of public ownership and federal oversight, and measures to ensure energy corporations are prevented from price gouging that leaves residents bearing the cost of the state’s failure.
“A year later, state leaders have done nothing to address underlying infrastructure needs or respond with any urgency to the continued threat of extreme weather brought on by climate change,” said Alexsandra Annello, El Paso City Councilmember. “They must stop preventing Texas from investing in our transition to create good, union jobs in the green energy industry.”
“Many Texans will experience higher energy bills to pay for the fuel costs associated with Winter Storm Uri. It’s unfortunate that our Governor refused to take on the financial responsibility and have put that burden on our residents,” said Teri Castillo, San Antonio City Councilmember. “We need large commercial and industrial rate payers to pay their fair share, and we need to ensure that corporations do not profit off of disasters.”
“We will never see any changes if we don’t strengthen state and federal oversight over our power grid,” said Deb Armintor, Denton City Councilmember. “We cannot continue to be isolated, we must expand transmission access into and out of ERCOT.”
“More than 200 people across Texas lost their lives due to the storm and failed power grid,” said Austin City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes. “Last year’s winter freeze, and the most recent ice storm, are urgent reminders that we must prioritize the winterization of our infrastructure and make Texas a leader in green energy with union jobs that support it.”