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Consumers Attribute Failure of the Texas Power Grid to Flaw in Texas Laws


Winter Storm Uri brought the state of Texas to a standstill. At its peak, the storm left 4.5 million homes and businesses without power, killed at least 111 people, and cost Texans around $195 billion. The 2021 session of the Texas Legislature debated several initiatives to address some of the problems facing Texas’ electric grid and reliable electricity service.

To understand Texans’ preferences for reliable electricity, willingness to pay to protect the Texas electric grid from effects of severe weather, and future power generation, the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston together with UH Energy conducted an online survey between May 13-25, 2021. The survey is the second to be conducted in the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri; the first was fielded between March 9-19, 2021.

1,500 Texas residents aged 18 years and older participated in the most recent survey, 68% of whom reported having their power interrupted during the winter storm, and 30% reporting damages to their homes due to the outages. The main finding from the survey is that three months after the blackouts, Texans remain frustrated and ready to attribute blame to power generators and policymakers.


KEY FIGURES

Did your home lose power during the winter storm between Sunday, February 14 and Saturday, February 20?

Image illustrating results for 'Did your home lose power during the winter storm between Sunday, February 14 and Saturday, February 20?' question

 

Did you and your household experience any damage to your home, such as broken pipes or water damage?

Image illustrating results for 'Did you and your household experience any damage to your home, such as broken pipes or water damage?' question

 

Respondents who reported damage and owned their home were asked: Do you have out-of-pocket expenses related to the blackout that will not be reimbursed by insurance, for example, lost food, wages, and/or repairs? Please select the approximate range of out-of-pocket expenses you expect to incur.

Image illustrating results for 'Respondents who reported damage and owned their home were asked: Do you have out-of-pocket expenses related to the blackout that will not be reimbursed by insurance, for example, lost food, wages, and/or repairs? Please select the approximate range of out-of-pocket expenses you expect to incur.' question

 

From what you've read or heard, which of the following do you believe are responsible for the electricity grid failure during the winter storm this past February? Select all that apply.

Image illustrating results for 'From what you've read or heard, which of the following do you believe are responsible for the electricity grid failure during the winter storm this past February? Select all that apply.' question

 

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the following energy sources will make a substantial contribution to reliable and secure electricity supply in Texas in the future?

Image illustrating results for 'To what extent do you agree or disagree that the following energy sources will make a substantial contribution to reliable and secure electricity supply in Texas in the future?' question

 

In your opinion, how frequently is it acceptable for power outages to occur?

Image illustrating results for 'In your opinion, how frequently is it acceptable for power outages to occur?' question

 

In your opinion, when are power outages a significant problem? When the outage lasts…

Image illustrating results for 'In your opinion, when are power outages a significant problem? When the outage lasts…' question

 

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about electricity generation in Texas: I feel confident that the Texas state government will adequately tackle issues related to electric failures as experienced this past February.

Image illustrating results for 'To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about electricity generation in Texas: I feel confident that the Texas state government will adequately tackle issues related to electric failures as experienced this past February.' question

 

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about electricity generation in Texas: I feel that current laws and regulations in Texas are insufficient to tackle issues related to electric failures as experienced this past February.

Image illustrating results for 'To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about electricity generation in Texas: I feel that current laws and regulations in Texas are insufficient to tackle issues related to electric failures as experienced this past February.' question

 

From what you know or have heard, which of these factors, if any, would you say are the 2 most important for deciding which methods of electricity production should be used in Texas in the future? Please select two.

Image illustrating results for 'From what you know or have heard, which of these factors, if any, would you say are the 2 most important for deciding which methods of electricity production should be used in Texas in the future? Please select two.' question

 

In your opinion, how do you think policies proposed to protect the Texas electric grid from effects of severe weather should be paid for?

Image illustrating results for 'In your opinion, how do you think policies proposed to protect the Texas electric grid from effects of severe weather should be paid for?' question

 

Are you willing to pay an extra cost per month if power outages could be kept to 4 hours or less?

Image illustrating results for 'Are you willing to pay an extra cost per month if power outages could be kept to 4 hours or less?' question

 

Respondents who answered ‘Yes’ to the previous question were asked: How much money per month do you think is appropriate to keep outages to 4 hours or less?

Image illustrating results for 'Respondents who answered ‘Yes’ to the previous question were asked: How much money per month do you think is appropriate to keep outages to 4 hours or less?' question

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Gail Buttorff, Co-Director, Survey Research Institute and Assistant Instructional Professor, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Chief Energy Officer, UH Energy and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Petroleum Engineering and Chemistry, UH Energy

Pablo M. Pinto, Director, Center for Public Policy and Associate Professor, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Sunny M.C. Wong, Professor, Hobby School of Public Affairs


RESEARCHERS

Maria P. Perez Arguelles, Researcher 3, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Yewande O. Olapade, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Savannah L. Sipole, Research Associate, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Agustín Vallejo, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Hobby School of Public Affairs

Li Zheng, Research Assistant, Hobby School of Public Affairs and PhD Student, Department of Political Science