ERCOT’s negligence was costly


Summer Schlain

Like many Texans, the writer’s home sustained a great deal of damage in the aftermath of the winter storms in February.

Summer Schlain, Opinions Editor

Last February, Texas endured unforeseen weather which resulted in unimaginable emotional and physical damage. Multiple snowstorms all over Texas triggered a power outage crisis.  Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for every county across the state as a result of the extreme weather conditions. 

On Feb. 15, 2021 Electric Reliability Council of Texas officials began by starting to roll power outages, telling Texans this would reduce blackouts. 

Millions of families went without power for days in below-freezing temperatures. Parents were running out of diapers and food for their children. Homes were underwater. Some even witnessed icicles forming inside their homes. Places such as libraries were converted into shelters, and schools were made into sanctuaries for those who rely on electricity for warmth and medical aid.

The total damage and lack of information and safety precautions from government officials left an estimated $295 million in damage and over 200 people dead according to The Houston Chronicle. 

 After moving into our new house in October 2020, our family had finally found our dream home. We never expected that four months later we would find ourselves practically homeless with over $160,000 in damages to our beloved home. When you walked through the front door, water pooled throughout the first floor. Part of the ceiling collapsed and waves of water spilled out as we opened drawers with valued possessions. It was a family’s worst nightmare.

As we carefully air-dried birth certificates and family photos, politicians such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz appeared to be fleeing the state to Cancun to escape instead of being on ground and helping those in need. While we cleaned the insulation off the pillows we had been sleeping on just hours before the ceiling came down, our governor was nowhere to be found. 

Our officials do not know the fear of fighting with insurance adjusters to pay for the demolition and reconstruction of their homes. Nor have they had to figure out where they will relocate their entire family. For over three days of the blackouts, residents were left with vague tweets and silence from government officials.

Seven months later, we are still waiting on an unfinished house with a lawsuit filed against ERCOT and our insurance company. While this event has caused my parents’ emotional distress and anger, it is also an eye-opening experience to see how little has been done to deter climate change related issues in the state.

With another winter season right around the corner, I would like to believe the Texas government has made serious changes to ensure something like this never happens again. 

However, after the freeze in February 2021 that took 210 lives, our government has put into place abortion restrictions, permitless carry of firearms, and even changes to the social curriculum to leave out topics such as systemic racism. 

In 2011, after the state faced harsh winter conditions our leaders could have taken the opportunity to fix the infrastructure of our power grid but decided to ignore the issue, and have done nothing to legislation to protect us from similar disasters. 

My family was one of the thousands of households who endured destruction, and one of the millions filing a lawsuit against ERCOT’s incompetence. Our government officials have failed us – not believing in climate change and going another year without fixing their mistakes which have caused immense suffering.