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Houston’s Galleria area on the morning of Feb. 14.

Houston’s Galleria area on the morning of Feb. 14.

Photographer: Daniel Kramer

Why Texas Broke: The Crisis That Sank the State Has No Easy Fix

When the cold spell plunged the energy powerhouse into darkness, Texans found profound flaws in their infrastructure. Meaningful change may be a long time coming.

The Houston skyline was lit pink for Valentine’s Day. It was cold—really cold, at least by the standards of the Gulf Coast, where wintertime lows are generally around 50F. That Sunday night it was below freezing; the forecast called for the first snow in years.

Earlier in the day, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, better known as Ercot, the nonprofit that manages the state electricity grid, had gently urged Texans to be mindful during the storm. “We know it’s cold. But if you turn down your heat to 68 degrees and put on a fleece, you can help keep the power flowing for everyone,” the group tweeted earlier in the day. Another post showed a picture of a KitchenAid stand mixer: “Unplug the fancy new appliances you bought during the pandemic and only used once.”