Ted Cruz called for state energy regulation despite lauding Texas' lack of regulation 2 years ago

  • Ted Cruz wants regulators to “act swiftly” on high energy bills from the Texas winter storm.
  • In 2019, however, Cruz lauded Texas for low regulation in its energy sector.
  • In 1999, Texas shifted control of its energy grid to private generators and other groups.
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Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is pushing for regulators to step in after a statewide winter storm knocked out power for millions of Texans in mid-February.

But it wasn’t long ago that Cruz attributed the state’s prior energy successes to low regulation.

Texas began its quest for energy deregulation in 1999, according to The New York Times, when the state shifted control of the sector to a market-based system reliant on private generators, retail electric providers, and transmission companies. Texas is the only state in the mainland-US that is not part of the federal electric grid.

Twenty years later, in 2019, the state’s crude oil production broke a 40-year-old record, prompting Cruz to cite Texas’ decision to deregulate the sector as a primary reason for its energy production and suggested that more states should do the same. 

“We work to export this recipe for success to more & more states so that all Americans enjoy the same prosperity,” Cruz said in a tweet.

Just two years later in February 2021, however, a US-wide winter storm blanketed the nation in snow and ice, prompting electricity struggles for millions of Americans. No state was affected more than Texas, which saw water disruptions in nearly half of the state. Millions of residents were left without power for days.

According to reporting from The Texas Tribune, the state’s energy grid was just “seconds and minutes” away from being powerless for months after energy demands skyrocketed just as natural-gas resources and renewable-energy sources froze due to the extreme cold.

As the winter weather crisis unfolded nationwide, the wholesale price of electricity rose 10,000% — from $50 per megawatt-hour to $9,000 — leading some Texans with index or variable-rate energy plans to exorbitantly-high electric bills for less than a week’s worth of electricity. Because of minimal regulation in the energy sector, Texans are encouraged to shop for their own plans on the open market.

After seeing a Dallas News article on Twitter regarding one Texan’s $5,000 energy bill, Cruz broke from his previous position on the state’s energy policies and called for local and state regulators to “act swiftly to prevent this injustice.”

Cruz’s press team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The senator’s call-to-action on Twitter came after days of being relentlessly mocked in the news and online. As millions in the state suffered in the cold, some of whom died of hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning, Cruz was seen traveling to Cancun, Mexico for a vacation with his wife and kids. Cruz originally said his plan was only to drop his family off and immediately return home, but records show he originally planned to stay for several days longer. 

Following his return to the US and remarks to the news media, Cruz posted photos to his congressional Twitter account of himself placing water bottles into two cars and serving barbecue to Houston first responders.

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