47 Dead as Energy Providers Institute Blackouts

Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa/The New York Times

By Emma Williams

As of Thursday night, 47 people have died throughout the country after it was hit by an extreme winter storm, more than half the deaths were in Texas alone, largely due to the mismanagement by Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

The central part of the Midwest largely relies on SPP, a non-profit corporation, which oversees much of the power grid and wholesale power market in the central US. It manages the power grid of 14 states from North Dakota to northern Texas. On Monday, SPP declared its first ever level 3 emergency, meaning it could not meet expected energy needs. By Tuesday, it had downgraded to level 2.

The rolling blackouts were announced on Monday, less than an hour before they were set to begin in some areas. This comes as wind chills hit between negative 20 and 30 degrees for multiple days across the Midwest. The Kansas City metropolitan area had a high of zero degrees on Tuesday, which has only occurred 25 times in its recorded history.

In Western Missouri and across much of Kansas, power outages lasted for hours past the expected 30-60 minutes. 200,000 Evergy customers went without power at the height of the blackouts on Tuesday. Evergy, the largest energy provider for much of Kansas and Western Missouri, has not yet addressed why hundreds of thousands went days without power.

Millions of people in cities across Iowa, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska experienced blackouts over the course of more than 48 hours.

While the scope of the winter storm is historic, the suffering of the working class and most vulnerable in our society could easily have been prevented by redirecting power and properly treating infrastructure for winter conditions. The failures of the capitalists created the current crisis as they sought to increase profits and not properly weatherize generators.

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