AUSTIN, Texas — Winter is coming and many Texans are still having vivid flashbacks to February's deadly storm. But energy regulators announced late last week they will enforce new mandates.
The Public Utility Commission approved a new rule requiring power companies to better prepare for winter weather. They're based on recommendations from 2011 that were never acted upon. The rule also requires power plants to fix "acute" issues from the February 2021 winter storm that left millions without power.
“I think the rule is actually a really good step in the right direction. There’s a lot left undone. Some of which is within the PUC’s control and some of which is not,” said Doug Lewin, an energy consultant and the president of Stoic Energy.
But there's still concern the power grid won't be ready for this winter. Lewin said had the rules from 2011 been implemented, Texans could have avoided the tragedy seen in February.
“It’s tragic to think that had we had those in place, a lot of people would still have their lives and a lot of damage would have been avoided. You can’t go back and change that but the point is now, is to get this right,” he said.
Lewin pointed to problems with a proposed rule from the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the oil and gas industry. The rule allows exemptions on weatherization for natural gas suppliers if they pay $150.
“I follow this very closely. I do not have confidence we are ready for this winter. I don’t have confidence the things they’re doing are going to have us ready for next winter for that matter,” he said.
Lewin noted February’s storm was historic, but that it could happen more frequently and Texas needs to be prepared
“Obviously that was a wild storm and hopefully we won’t have another storm like that. But hope is not a strategy. We need to harden our system,” he said.
Click the video link above to watch our full interview with Lewin.