OPINION

Opinion: Why what happened in Texas won’t happen in Utah

Feb 25, 2021, 7:51 PM | Updated: 7:52 pm
Texas Utah...
A woman walks through falling snow in San Antonio, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. Snow and ice blanketed large swaths of the U.S. on Sunday, prompting canceled flights, making driving perilous and reaching into areas as far south as Texas’ Gulf Coast, where snow and sleet were expected overnight. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

After watching what happened in Texas, the enormous suffering of millions of people without power, without water, for more than a week now, the question for us is – could it happen in Utah? The person to ask is the Director of the Utah Division of Public Utilities Chris Parker.

Parker: “I’ll hesitate to say it couldn’t happen here. I don’t want to lay an absolute like that, but certainly, our system is far different than Texas’ system.”

It’s all about the grid. Our grid is used to inhospitable weather. Pacificorp, Rocky Mountain Power’s parent company, has power facilities in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah all over the Northwest. These facilities are hardened against that. The region we’re a part of stretches from Alberta to Mexico. There is a lot of diversity in climate and demand for power in that region. 

Parker: “Texas is huge but much less diverse geographically and weather-wise than we are, and much less prepared in their facilities for extreme cold.”

That said – we have our share of issues with wind storms that keep people out of power for days.

Parker: “There isn’t a lot we can do to protect against that except undergrounding new systems and quick responses to be resilient in areas like Centerville where that happens a fair amount. We guard against these things by building robust enough to handle weather like this, but there’s always a risk, and frankly, if you could protect against it, it would be prohibitively expensive. And that was the issue in Texas.”

Texas has its own power system, but we have to remember – Texas is the size of several states. Part of its power vulnerability is based on its lack of diversity in weather conditions and lack of preparation for that relative lack of diversity. Certainly, there are colder temperatures in parts of Texas, but the decision-makers didn’t think it was enough to prepare for. 

That’s the decision they’ll be rethinking. 

Parker: “If (Texas) regulators had imposed more robust requirements on generation transmission and distribution facilities, it would have raised rates, and there would have been complaints about that. But there is a threshold obligation for regulators to meet. It’s a compact with the people and with the utilities. What Texas wants, I suspect, will be different after this than it was before.”

Think of it this way. We hate it when the power company comes out to trim the trees. We hate it when our rates go up, but we hate it when the trees go down and the power goes out more. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Today’s Top Stories

Opinion

Follow @amandadickson...
Amanda Dickson

Working Conference Weekend

Some of the weekends that I remember best and thoroughly enjoyed were conference weekends. Times were different, but the memories hold true.
4 days ago
Hurricane Tropical Storm Sally...
Amanda Dickson

Hurricane days were like snow days

For those who have spent time in Florida, like KSL NewsRadio's Amanda Dickson, hurricane days are much like snow days here in Utah.
6 days ago
Follow @amandadickson...
Amanda Dickson

Time Out on the Field

One of my first jobs when I started at KSL in 1990 was running the board for BYU games, football and basketball.
11 days ago
dog attorney defend dogs...
Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: Richard Rosenthal, animal attorney

Richard Rosenthal is an animal attorney who handles custody cases. He sues clinics for malpractice and defends dangerous dogs.
2 months ago
Indiana mall mass shootings...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: Should media reduce their coverage of mass shootings?

When the media focuses on mass shootings, is it hurting society, both on an individual level and collectively? What can be done?
3 months ago
new variant...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: Meet the new highly contagious variant of COVID-19 — BA.5

Like many others, KSL NewsRadio host Amanda Dickson avoided COVID-19 until the latest, most transmissible new variant emerged.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Opinion: Why what happened in Texas won’t happen in Utah