NEW Stupid Republican Idea of the Day (Part 3)

Meanwhile in Texas, the power grid is failing yet again and residents are relying on the Whataburger app to track outages since the state doesn’t seem to know where the power is out.

Does Waffle House not have an app?

It’s not that they don’t know, it’s that they don’t care.
Anyone know if Cruz is trying to book a flight to Norway?

That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. The crowd running Texas believe government is bad (despite being the government) and want to shrink it to the point they can drown it in a bathtub. I think the end goal is to pay elected officials who truly do absolutely nothing.

The attitude seems to be that people should be self-reliant and not rely on the government for anything at all. Don’t have your own private mini-utility in your backyard? Sucks to be you. Can’t afford the set up? It’s your own damn fault for not being born into wealth or corrupting your way into a job where you get paid lots for doing nothing.

No, because Waffle House doesn’t have Windows that open.

Go to your room.

Plus by deliberately making government fail, they can say “See? Government is the problem! Vote me into office and I’ll dismantle this dysfunctional behemoth that oppresses you!”

“Here’s a Patriot mini-generator! Just $99.99 with your vote and Social Security info. And yes, my cousin makes ‘em. You don’t want socialist electricity in your home, do you?”

A few minor corrections/updates:

Texas has a weird mish-mash of companies, some dedicated only to the actual grid and some for power generation. So, in the Houston area, I’ll pay, for example, Reliant Energy for the electricity (or Gexa or whoever), but Centerpoint Energy actually does the distribution and infrastructure (lines, poles, etc) construction and maintenance for all of the power generation companies, so they get a cut from all the bills.

In the greater Houston area, Centerpoint handles the infrastructure end of things (in Dallas it’s Oncor, in San Antonio it’s CPS - which is municipally owned). Some of the outlying areas of the greater Houston region are served by other companies, which also experienced storm related issues, but not nearly to the same degree.

Centerpoint, in particular, has been falling down on the job for years. They used to have an outage map but it got overloaded during the Derecho a couple months back and hasn’t been back since. They claimed they weren’t going to bring it back in favor of a new and improved version to be rolled out “soon” ™ but several people noted that not having anything at all heading into hurricane season was a bad idea. All the while, they encourage people to sign up for an automatic text update system that don’t actually do anything (and won’t until the new/improved stuff comes out, if ever). They absolutely know where power is out but had no interest in letting the general public know - probably to avoid the inevitable flood of calls asking about restoration times.

Well, too bad. Late last night, they rolled out a partial map that showed areas that were powered (at least to the circuit level - individual houses could still have issues) and other areas yet to be serviced. It was broadly correct but people were noting inaccuracies from the get-go and it has yet to be updated since it rolled out.

Their press releases are definitely massaged to highlight just how many ‘resources’ they’ve deployed and how many power restorations they’ve performed, but that still leaves the question of how/why so much of the grid failed. Also, they were counting restorations since they started work, not since the storm started knocking out power to thousands of customers, which was a difference of 9-10 hours.

Yes, a hurricane hit but only a Cat 1 storm that, based on previous hurricane experience, should have caused only a fraction of the grid issues that actually occurred.

The Whataburger app solution was nice but even it was of highly questionable accuracy, so take whatever you see with a grain of salt. But it is true that the questionable accuracy of the app was better than the absolute nothing that Centerpoint provided for nearly 2 days. The Centerpoint map (that is hidden behind several links) is now better than checking the Whataburger app, but that’s a low, low bar and it’s still of very questionable accuaracy that hasn’t been properly updated in over 15 hours.

Shit, when my power goes out, I get a phone call of estimates of when it will come back. Cell towers have battery backups.

Texas is proof that the free market isn’t the perfect remedy for all things. Indeed, it is all too likely to put short-term profits over long term interests of any sort.

But because of the way that the US uses the states as “laboratories of democracy”, the Texas way tends to get implemented everywhere.

That’s the case around here, too. The cell tower backups, I mean. But many/most of the towers were kept in a lower power state to conserve power. So enough for calls and text but not necessarily enough for data, at least at first. Things seem to be improving daily.

Definitely no phone calls on estimated power restoration, though. To a large extent, I understand this, having gone through several tropical systems now. The damage tends to be widespread and random, so estimating recovery times is very tough, if not impossible. Sometimes an individual outage for a major circuit is a relatively quick and simple fix. Other times, it requires extensive work by several teams. In the aftermath of a major storm, it’s exceedingly difficult to build restoration estimates until after a few days. We’re now getting to the point where we should have one and it is strongly believed (and likely) Centerpoint only put up the map they did because it was embarrassing for a fast food joint to outperform them on that front.

But there are 2 things I absolutely believe they fucked up in ways that are difficult to comprehend based on past history:

  1. There absolutely needed to be a relatively accurate outage map from the beginning. In these sorts of emergencies, people need to know if a grocery store, gas station, etc has a reasonable shot at being open and powered. Centerpoint has had such a map in the past. It wasn’t always as detailed or accurate as you might wish but it was significantly better than what we have now. Estimated restoration times would be a big plus but just knowing if an area had power or not would be invaluable.

  2. The damage to the grid should not have been so widespread. This isn’t the region’s first rodeo. Beryl was a Cat-1 storm and nobody who’s lived in the region for long enough to see similar storms would have thought such widespread power outages would have resulted. Hurricane Ike 16 years ago was much stronger, hit Houston more centrally, and did not produce such a result. My personal opinion, and one shared by many, is that the ‘deregulation’ that occurred 20 years ago with concomitant cost cutting and “efficiencies” has finally resulted in the inevitable shoddy maintenance and preparation the current situation implies. All the while, corporate profits for Centerpoint have held up and they’re likely to get some kind of government bailout, which I suppose is nice for the stockholders but sucks for the rest of us.

I’m not sure if this goes in this thread but:

The headlines:

The full quote:

I’m not sure if the stupid idea here is what Comer is admitting to or the fact that he’s admitting to it.

Chairman of the Alabama GOP: “Democracy leads to socialism!”

'We must become an autocracy! Because only a dictator can save us from the tyranny of democracy!


And the clock strikes thirteen.

Which is one of the many, many reasons I’m glad to be living in Massachusetts. We have a strong statutory and regulatory structure, enforced with an active Department of Public Utilities. Utility companies have to file regular reports on their mandated outage hardening programs, and cost recovery for storm damage repair has to be justified in public hearings with vigorous intervention by the Attorney General and other parties. Utilities are required to meet certain goals for outage rates. All the utilities have mutual aid arrangements (in state and out of state) with other utilities as well as private contractors for prestaging and utilizing repair crews and equipment.

That said, storms of course can knock out power here, too – ice storms especially, or snow storms in shoulder months when leaves are on the trees. And if it’s bad enough to take down transmission lines, it’s going to take a while to get things back up. In any case, restoration goes from transmission to distribution hubs to circuits to individual lines, with extra effort provided to get critical facilities back up ASAP.

But overall our electric system is a lot more robust than Texas’s – and that’s not even counting the fact that we have regional hookups to power sources outside of the state, unlike the Lone (yeh, bro, we’ll go it alone!) Star state.

ETA: Or, in other words, your average socialist hellscape.

Preaching to the choir. Short tens of millions of miraculous changes of heart, I hope not to be forced to retire here.

As General Sheridan once said, if I owned Texas and Hell, I’d live in Hell and rent out Texas.