Post Office order falls short of Biden’s electric vehicle target

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: The U.S. Postal Service orders a fleet of new delivery trucks that includes a mix of fossil-fuel and electric vehicles, falling short of President Biden’s goal of electrifying the federal fleet. (Detroit Free Press, E&E News)

ALSO:
• A Maryland county signs a contract to lease 326 electric school buses, making it the largest municipal operator of electric vehicles in the country. (Bloomberg Green)
• Ohio startup Lordstown Motors is entering its electric truck in a major off-road race in Mexico, which company officials say is not a publicity stunt. (Autoweek)
• Electric car startup Lucid Motors raises $4 billion in a merger that will support expansion of its Arizona factory. (CNN Business)

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FERC to examine climate threats to grid

GRID: In response to the Texas grid crisis, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Glick says “the effects of climate change are already apparent” and the agency will “do everything we can within our statutory authority” to ensure reliability. (Reuters)

ALSO:
• Texas lawmakers and regulators repeatedly ignored, dismissed, or watered down efforts over the last decade to secure the state’s electric grid against extreme weather, public records show. (Texas Tribune/ProPublica)
• The Texas Division of Emergency Management warned of the risks of “widespread power outages” from winter weather in a 2018 report. (E&E News, subscription)
• A woman whose 11-year-old son died in last week’s freeze has filed a $100 million negligence lawsuit against Texas regulators and Entergy, saying the entities ignored 2011 federal recommendations to winterize infrastructure. (Reuters)
• Analysts say fallout from last week’s power outages — and misinformation about the role of renewables in the crisis — may hamper efforts to move Texas toward clean energy.

California, Texas grids face a parallel climate crisis

GRID: While Texas and California have taken different paths on energy, the states have a “shared dilemma” as extreme weather events have pushed their infrastructure to the brink. (Politico)

ALSO:
• The energy crisis in Texas was years in the making, say experts, who point to extensive deregulation and its standalone electric grid as primary factors that set the state up for disaster. (Bloomberg, New York Times)
• Texas officials are accused of ignoring warnings in the days, months and years before last week’s power grid collapse. (Associated Press)
• “We’re not prepared for this”: A Texas Republican defends the state’s independent grid but says the state needs to heed 2011 warnings to winterize infrastructure. (Politico)

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Was climate change to blame for Texas cold snap?

CLIMATE: The U.S. officially rejoins the Paris Agreement today, though officials acknowledge more will need to be done to make up for four years of inaction under the Trump administration. (Associated Press, NBC News)

ALSO:
• While scientists have warned that cold snaps like the one that upended the Texas power grid this week are a predictable consequence of climate change, others want more information before making the link. (Vox)
• NASCAR team Roush Fenway Racing announces that it has achieved carbon neutrality, which it will celebrate Sunday with a paint scheme for Ryan Newman’s car. (Associated Press, news release)

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Texas was warned about power plant vulnerability a decade ago

GRID: More than 3 million customers around the country are still without electricity as another winter storm system hits the eastern U.S. today. (Associated Press)

ALSO:
• A federal study following a 2011 cold snap warned Texas officials that the state’s power plants were vulnerable, but it’s not clear whether any of the recommendations were followed. (Bloomberg)
• Rick Perry, who was governor of Texas during the 2011 outages and briefly served as Secretary of Energy, suggests Texans would willingly endure power outages “to keep the federal government out.” (The Hill)
• Beyond Texas, experts note that the U.S. power grid overall is uniquely vulnerable to weather-related disruptions and that other countries are better prepared. (Yale Climate Connections)
• Texas Gov. Greg Abbot orders all natural gas producers in the state to sell to power producers before exports will be allowed, as power prices continue to soar. (S&P Global)
• First responders are seeing a surge in carbon monoxide poisoning cases as people use stoves and cars to keep warm, with at least two deaths in Texas and four in Oregon so far.