On July 6, the Department of Energy announced it was handing out more than $200 million to a handful of states and tribal entities. This is part of an effort to strengthen the country’s electrical grid and reduce the impacts of extreme weather and natural disasters due to climate change.
Texas state officials will ultimately develop a plan on what to do with the funds, but the money could go toward programs such as trimming trees around power lines or improving how equipment holds up to extreme heat or cold.
This is good news for a state that’s already battled power grid issues in the face of extreme weather events in recent years.
In 2021, a winter storm forced Texas power grid operators to cut electricity to millions of the state’s residents, leaving many people without heat.
Likewise, a winter storm early this year cut power across the state. In Austin, tree limbs fell after being weighed down by ice, taking power lines with them. And powerful storms took out even more power lines in eastern Texas this June.
These kinds of extreme weather events are likely to increase in the coming years. A recent report from leading climate scientists and meteorologists said climate change has already driven unprecedented heat waves, floods, and droughts. Storms will likely get stronger and more frequent as the world warms.
The U.S. also will likely see more tornadoes outside of their typical time and place. That is, Tornado Alley appears to be expanding, and these violent storms could start appearing more in the “offseason” (winter and fall). This will lead to even more destruction across wider swaths of the nation.
“For example, it’s causing storms to have more fuel to work with in the form of water vapor and heat [and] more moisture … as a result, these storms are dumping more precipitation,” Francis told the Union of Concerned Scientists.
While Texas’ power grid grant can’t necessarily stop storms from hitting, it can reduce the blow for residents.
“These grants will help modernize the electric grid to reduce impacts of extreme weather and natural disasters while enhancing power sector reliability,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
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