Texas Standard For February 26, 2021

The deregulated electric market was set up to save money for Texas consumers. So why did Texans end up paying $28 billion more? That story coming up on the Texas Standard. A Wall Street Journal analysis shows the Texas electrical grid not only failed during the storm, but failed consumers for decades by leading to higher bills. We’ll hear what happened and why. Plus the latest on hearings by Texas lawmakers. And: With a disaster declaration in Texas, what comes next? The nuts and bolts of accessing federal aid. Also: The University of Texas-RGV is in hot water for turning away eligible people seeking vaccines. Plus: The week in Texas politics and much more.

By Texas StandardFebruary 26, 2021 9:30 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Friday, February 26, 2021.

Texas Legislature Energy Hearing Recap 

The Texas Legislature began hearings Thursday into last week’s destructive winter storm  The state House and Senate show-downs with utility providers and officials at the helm of ERCOT and the Texas Public Utility Commission were billed as a chance for lawmakers to get to the bottom of the failure that knocked out power to 4.5 million homes. Texas Public Radio’s Paul Flahive reports.

Texas Electric Bills

As lawmakers and Texans look to the future of the electric grid after the rampant power outages a week ago, attention has turned to the regulation of electricity in Texas, or the relative lack thereof.  A new analysis of data by The Wall Street Journal shows how Texans have been paying more for years when it comes to electricity. Scott Patterson, a WSJ reporter talks to the Standard.

State Budget

Texas is starting 2021 nearly $1 billion in the hole. While it’s not as bad as some feared, some services will be on the chopping block. Houston Public Media’s Andrew Schneider takes a look at which ones are at risk.

FEMA Disaster Aid

Some of you are wondering if you qualify for FEMA aid after the winter storm zapped power to millions of Texans a week ago. The Standard turns to Kurt Pickering, a Texas-based spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Administration or FEMA, for answers.

Controversy at UTRGV

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is in hot water after its COVID-19 vaccination site turned away several people eligible for the shot. The university has apologized, chalking it up to a misunderstanding of guidelines laying out who can receive the vaccine. But in an already medically vulnerable region – with mixed status families and multigenerational households – community leaders say, mistakes this big can seed distrust.

 Non-Profit Offers Housing

For many Texans, life has returned to what is considered normal during a pandemic. But others still have no place to go, a week after freezing temperatures took over much of the state. KERA’s Alejandra Martinez reports.

Texas Infrastructure To-Do List

The Texas Legislature is about to spend months talking about how to improve the state’s power grid. That’s not all that needs retooling. There are aging bridges, dams and wastewater treatment plants that need to be repaired or replaced, not to mention the upkeep that Texas’ roads require. Augustine Verrengia, a civil engineer from Austin and the government affairs chairman for the Texas chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers talks to the Standard about where to start.

Typewriter Rodeo 

The Week in Politics, with The Texas Tribune

All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Social Media Editor Wells Dunbar with the talk of Texas.

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.