Mayor Turner testifies before house committee about Texas power grid failure

Jeff Ehling Image
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Rep. Crenshaw's testy exchange with Mayor Turner
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"Mr. Mayor, I've given you enough time here. If you want to respond to me more, you can actually text me back every once in a while. I've got a long list of non-responses from you."

WASHINGTON (KTRK) -- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's testimony Wednesday before a U.S. House subcommittee over the Feb. winter storm power grid failure included some testy moments with U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw over generator failures in the city.

"Mr. Mayor, your city facilities are not powered by renewables when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining," Crenshaw said during the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. "They just aren't. Now, during the storm, 20% of the city's generators would not start. Mr. Mayor, why were these generators not maintained? Do you think it's the federal government's responsibility to maintain those or can you take responsibility for that?"

Turner argued that the city of Houston is powered by renewable energy and pointed to his vote as a state representative to deregulate markets, but was cut off by the second term congressman from Katy.

"I voted to deregulate this market in 1999," Turner said. "Generation is deregulated, retail electric providers are deregulated, transmission and distribution is regulated. I'm quite familiar..."

"Mister Mayor, I've given you enough time there," Crenshaw interrupted. "If you want to respond to me more, you can actually text me back every once in a while. I've got a long list of non-responses from you on my phone."

WATCH: Turner testifies before House subcommittee on Feb. winter storm

Crenshaw also questioned Environmental Progress founder and president Michael Shellenberger over the idea of removing carbon-based power sources. He also questioned Railroad Commission of Texas chairwoman Christi Craddick over natural gas reliance.

Turner said earlier he's urging Congress to help local communities prepare for the next disaster by making sure rolling blackouts never happen again.

"The Texas Grid must be designed with the full appreciation that climate change is real and extreme weather events can occur throughout the year," the mayor said in an earlier statement. "We must build a system that is resilient and sustainable."

Turner says Houston has seen four 500-year storms in the last six years and a major winter storm on top of that.

RELATED: Houston families still without homes 1 month after winter storm

It's not hard to find Houstonians who think more needs to be done to enhance the grid.

"Texas was very unprepared," one resident said in regards to the winter storm.

"My house was completely damaged," another Houstonian recalled. "There is no living in it."

Turner says 50,000 homes and 400 apartment complexes suffered burst pipes in Houston.

The congressional hearing can be found online here.

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SEE ALSO: Winter storm caused at least 57 deaths, with most fatalities resulting from hypothermia