ERCOT is catching a lot of flak from Texans for its systemic failure to cope with Winter Storm Uri (read about it here), and there seems to be evidence that it is an ERCOT thing and not simply an unavoidable weather disaster:
The outages cover the areas served by Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, from the counties bordering Mexico up to those touching Oklahoma, and from Houston in the east to rural Big Bend in the west. Yet areas outside of ERCOT's coverage zone, including the eastern border with Louisiana, the northwest panhandle and El Paso in the west, are basically unaffected.
But the money quote in the entire CNN article is this:
When asked on Wednesday why ERCOT hasn't mandated more winterization to prevent outages, ERCOT's senior director of system operations Dan Woodfin said it was not required.
It was not . . .required. And that’s what you get when you allow corporations the freedom to decide what is and what isn’t necessary. They look at the projected bottom line, and they do some “what if” calculations based on various scenarios. And if they conclude that taking certain routine preventative measures will be more costly than simply absorbing the occasional weather problem, they don’t do the precaution. (And it probably goes without saying that when they were doing those “what ifs” they did not include a scenario with a Uri-magnitude storm, because the odds of such a storm happening were so small that it could safely be ignored. Oops.)
Oh, and this is pretty illuminating, too:
Compounding the issue is that Texas's electric system of ERCOT is isolated from the rest of the country, partly as a way to avoid federal regulation. So it cannot simply import power from elsewhere to make up for the shortage.
It is time for Democrats to focus on doing a better job of selling the need for good regulations. They do a pretty good job of recognizing the need, but they don’t seem to know how to put the “sales pitch” in language that speaks to conservatives. That leaves conservatives free to scoff that “A Democrat Congressman never met a regulation he didn’t like.” (Note the multiple biases: Democrat Congressman. . .that he didn’t like.) Those emotionally-loaded arguments can pack a lot of punch in just a few words. And you can’t counter such clichés by using Democratic-friendly verbiage; you’ve got to speak to conservatives where they live. Like now, by pointing out that the Texas emphasis on giving corporations free rein to decide for themselves how to “do the right thing” is what caused this disastrous grid failure. And the “Friedman doctrine” that the bottom line is the only duty that a corporation has is the root cause of this failure. If Texans don’t like the result, they should help their Democratic state and federal representatives do something to make it work better. Democrats do have a better idea.