'A complete bungle': Texas' energy pride goes out with cold

Full Screen
1 / 13

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Morgan Handley, left, helps move people to a warming shelter at Travis Park Methodist Church to help escape sub-freezing temperatures, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas – Anger over Texas' power grid failing in the face of a record winter freeze continued to mount Wednesday as millions of residents in the energy capital of the U.S. remained shivering with no assurances that their electricity and heat — out since Monday in many homes — would return soon or stay on once it finally does.

“I know people are angry and frustrated,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday. “So am I.”

In all, nearly 1.9 million customers in Texas still had no power Wednesday after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge in demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid and causing widespread blackouts. A large swath of Texas was under yet another winter storm warning Wednesday.

Making matters worse: Expectations that the outages would be a shared sacrifice by the state's 30 million residents quickly gave way to a cold reality, as pockets in some of America's largest cities, including San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, were left to shoulder the lasting brunt of a catastrophic power failure, and in subfreezing conditions that Texas' grid operators had known was coming.

The breakdown sparked growing outrage and demands for answers over how Texas — whose Republican leaders as recently as last year taunted California over the Democratic-led state's rolling blackouts — failed such a massive test of a major point of state pride: energy independence. And it cut through politics, as fuming Texans took to social media to highlight how while their neighborhoods froze in the dark Monday night, downtown skylines glowed despite desperate calls to conserve energy.

“We are very angry. I was checking on my neighbor, she’s angry, too," said Amber Nichols in north Austin. "We’re all angry because there is no reason to leave entire neighborhoods freezing to death.”

She crunched through ice wearing a parka and galoshes, while her neighbors dug out their driveways from 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow to move their cars.

“This is a complete bungle,” she said.