In the middle of February 2021, an Arctic cold front wreaked havoc on Texas, causing a blackout that plunged more than 4 million customers into darkness and cold during single-digit temperatures. The crisis led to the deaths of nearly 200 people and an estimated $50 billion changed hands, saddling millions of customers, including ones in neighboring states, with unexpected excess costs.
What happened in Texas is an incredibly complex story involving many factors, from a simple lack of weatherization, to flaws in the state’s electricity market structure, to failed governance. And untangling that story, and identifying ways to prevent such a crisis from ever happening again, is a complex task. To help us with it, we invited several Energy Transition Show alumni—journalist Russell Gold of the Wall Street Journal, professor Emily Grubert of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and legal scholar Ari Peskoe of Harvard Law School—to join us in a four-way conversation that explores all the angles.
Ari Peskoe is a Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative. He has written extensively about electricity regulation, on issues ranging from rooftop solar to Constitutional challenges to states’ energy laws.
On Twitter: @AriPeskoe
Emily Grubert is a civil engineer and environmental sociologist who studies how we can make better decisions about large infrastructure systems, particularly related to decarbonization of the US energy system. Specifically, she studies socioenvironmental impacts associated with future policy and infrastructure and how community and societal priorities can be better incorporated into multicriteria policy and project decisions. Grubert is an Associate Professor of Sustainable Energy Policy and, concurrently, of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame.
On Twitter: @emilygrubert
On the Web: emilygrubert.org
Russell Gold is an award-winning investigative reporter and author who has been writing about energy since 1996. has dodged polar bears on Alaska’s North Slope, climbed a wind turbine in Oklahoma, and spent time on frac pads from Carrizo Springs to Fort Worth and Odessa to Carthage. He worked at the San Antonio Express-News before joining the Wall Street Journal, where he worked from 2000 to 2021. Gold has won multiple business-writing awards and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his coverage of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the electric line–caused Camp Fire in California. His 2014 book, The Boom, was long-listed for the FT Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year prize. His 2019 book, Superpower, profiles Houstonian Michael Skelly’s attempt to build a very, very long extension cord. Gold joined Texas Monthly in 2021 to write about the business of Texas. He lives with his wife in Austin.
On Twitter: @russellgold
On the Web: www.russellgold.net
Recording date: March 19, 2021
Air date: April 14, 2021
Geek rating: 8