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Texas Power Plants Failed Because They Aren’t Dressed for Winter

  • Utilities in cold areas ‘wrap a building around’ their plants
  • Texas grid operator lacks authority to require cold-proofing
Transmission towers and power lines lead to a substation after a snow storm in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 16.

Transmission towers and power lines lead to a substation after a snow storm in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 16.

Photographer: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images 

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Texas blackouts triggered by frozen power infrastructure have left many wondering why the state’s electricity generators weren’t prepared for the cold.

The short answer: They aren’t required to cold-proof their assets. While generators in chillier regions are typically compelled by federal or state rules to protect their plants from the elements, Texas plants can leave their pipes, valves and pressure gauges exposed. It’s cheaper that way.