Fiscal Notes: Winter Storm Uri was costly for Texas

Texas is the only state in the continental U.S. with its own electric power grid, serving 90 percent of its population. Independence from the national grid has its benefits, but extreme weather events like Winter Storm Uri last February have exposed a lack of proper planning and uneven weatherization procedures.

In this special edition of Fiscal Notes, the Comptroller’s office takes an in-depth look at Winter Storm Uri, which knocked out power for nearly 70 percent of Texans and disrupted water utilities, leaving many Texans without heat or running water for extended periods in the frigid cold. It resulted in between $80 billion and $130 billion in financial losses to the state economy, and it claimed at least 210 lives.

“The unprecedented snow and ice storm that pushed through Texas last February is still on our minds, especially for those who lost loved ones,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said. “And yet the storm also highlighted the can-do spirit of Texans and community partnerships who provided snow-boots-on-the-ground assistance to fellow citizens when they needed it most.”

This issue of Fiscal Notes, released recently, also examines the immediate response to the storm and the legislative actions that followed: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department saved defenseless wildlife; and Gov. Greg Abbott signed a complex array of electric power reform bills that are expected to make big changes to the state’s electric market and regulatory entities to reduce the risk of electricity disruptions from extreme weather events in the future.

In addition, our agency eased restrictions on dyed diesel fuel to help ensure that enough fuel was available for disaster relief; we also extended due dates for state taxes and fees. Many other agencies not covered in this issue assisted in noteworthy ways as well.

Fiscal Notes furthers the Comptroller’s constitutional responsibility to monitor the state’s economy and estimate state government revenues. It has been published since 1975, featuring in-depth analysis concerning state finances and original research by subject-matter experts in the Comptroller’s office. 

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