On June 8, Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted, “Everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas.” Barely a week later, his agency which controls the power grid was recommending that Texans set thermostats at 78° or higher, turn off lights and unplug appliances. I don’t know but I am just guessing that not many appliances have been unplugged at the Governors’ mansion or, for that matter, at the homes of any of our other state leaders.
It has been clear from the start that the state leadership’s principal aim has been to sweep the February grid collapse under the rug as quickly as possible and move on to red meat issues to deflect the public’s attention away from one of the greatest governance failures in the State’s history. At every turn, the State has sought to cover-up and dissemble any information about what really happened in February and scuttle any real effort to investigate the systemic problems with the ERCOT-controlled gird.
Since the grid failure, numerous media outlets and public advocacy groups have been filing Open Record requests with ERCOT, seeking answers about what happened. ERCOT has been fighting most of those requests, claiming that it is not subject to the Open Records law. In one of the most outrageous moves to facilitate the cover-up, our ethically challenged Attorney General has ruled that ERCOT is not subject to the Texas Open Records law. Instead, according to the Attorney General, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) which oversees ERCOT gets to decide what information is public.
Remember that this is an agency that is totally controlled by state law, has claimed in litigation that it is entitled to sovereign immunity as a state agency, and was just bailed out by the Texas Legislature to the tune of about $2.5 billion. And yet, according to the Attorney General, those who will ultimately pick up the tab for this fiasco have no right to see ERCOT’s records.
Of course, Governor Abbott could, with one telephone call, instruct his appointees to the PUC to stop fighting the Open Records requests. I would not hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
Not surprisingly, ERCOT’s fight to keep its records secret have been slammed by open record advocates. Some early discussion by some legislators to include a provision in the recently passed legislation that would have specifically subjected ERCOT to the Open Records Act was quickly quashed.
That is hardly surprising. This analysis by WFAA (Channel 8 in Dallas) found the energy-related interested hired 338 lobbyists at a cost of over $24 million to lobby in this session. Lord only knows how many millions have been doled out in campaign contributions. With the billions in profits that some made, there is plenty of money to go around.
This whitewash of an abject governance failure that caused hundreds of deaths and cost billions of dollars cannot be allowed to stand. But it is clear that our state leaders will do exactly that unless we demand a complete, impartial investigation of the grid failure and how to prevent it from ever happening again.
Please add your voice to this petition demanding such an investigation.