Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Tuesday, February 23, 2021.
Texans are starting to file lawsuits against the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, for failing to maintain power for days as outside temperatures plunged below freezing. While ERCOT has sovereign immunity, which protects it from lawsuits, an upcoming decision by the Texas Supreme Court could change that. Paul Takahashi, business reporter for the Houston Chronicle, talks to the Standard.
We’ve heard a lot of talk about ERCOT, which manages the state’s power grid, after last week’s storm caused massive power outages. Another agency you’re going to hear a lot more about is the Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT and public utilities. The commission is made up of Gov. Greg Abbott’s appointees. Jay Root, investigative reporter for the Houston Chronicle talks to the Standard about how the PUC canceled a contract with a group devoted to electrical reliability standards
Last week’s winter storm disrupted everything across Texas last week, including schools. In years past, a closed school building would mean no school. But after COVID-19, more schools are just flipping the switch to just all-virtual. How are schools taking what they’ve learned during the pandemic into the future? Curby Alexander is associate professor of professional practice at Texas Christian University’s College of Education. He talks to the Standard about whether “snow days” as we know them are melting away.
Last week’s storm was devastating, even deadly, in most of Texas. But many neighbors stepped up to help each other: offering free firewood, or walking over diapers or food because the roads were too bad. For many people, help like the above examples came via their local “Buy Nothing” group. Jennifer Lansdowne started the third such group in Austin and she talks to the Standard.
Last week’s weather emergency shined a light on a recurring problem: too much crucial information doesn’t reach Spanish speakers. In Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood, one in three people speak only Spanish or say it’s their preferred language. That’s where KERA’s Alejandra Martinez went to dig into how community leaders are bridging the language gap distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.
In Texas, residents in cities including Austin and San Antonio rely on a municipal utility provider which has fixed electric rates. In Houston and Dallas, residents can choose their electric provider – and some of those residents are bracing for higher electric bills caused by last week’s storm. Keegan Warren-Clem, a managing attorney for the Texas Legal Services Center, talks to the Standard about those bills, what the state is already doing about it and what consumers can do.
All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Social Media Editor Wells Dunbar with the talk of Texas.