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Feb. 17, 2021, 5:49 p.m. EST

Rick Perry says Texans would rather go without electricity than give the federal government more power over them

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By Nicole Lyn Pesce

That’s according to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who served as energy secretary for the first 2½ years of Donald Trump’s presidency. 

While a severe winter storm system has left tens of millions of Americans without power and killed at least 20 people across the country, Texas and its deregulated power grid have suffered perhaps most of all. Since about 60% of Texas homes use electric heat , the spike in demand has put more stress on the electric grid than it has been able to cope with. And that means that many of those without power also can’t heat their homes as the Lone Star State suffers through a record-breaking cold snap. 

Google /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL +0.90% /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +0.90% reported Wednesday that search interest in “heat” hit a record high in Texas over the past 24 hours. What’s more, the top Google search in Texas on Wednesday was “When will the power be back on?” And the top “is it safe” questions from Texans include “Is it safe to use a propane heater indoors?” and “Is it safe to burn charcoal in a fireplace?” as people apparently look for ways to get warm while the power is out. 

But speaking on behalf of the entire state, much as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presumed to speak for a generation in downplaying coronavirus risks last year , Perry apparently told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that Texans would willingly go without heat or electricity for days rather than give the federal government any more power, as the California Republican’s team shared in a blog post . The independent Texas power grid doesn’t cross state lines, so it is not regulated by the Federal Regulatory Commission.

The McCarthy post quoted Perry as warning that those on the political left watching the Texas energy crisis might see this as an opportunity “to expand their top-down, radical proposals,” such as expanding use of renewable energy.  

It also blamed the energy crisis in Texas on the state’s renewable-energy sources, even though all of the state’s power sources — including natural gas, coal and nuclear energy — have struggled to perform during these record-low temperatures. 

Read more: Texas power disaster may be strongest case yet for renewable energy

Opinion:   What’s behind the Texas power outages?

“Try not to let whatever the crisis of the day is take your eye off of having a resilient grid that keeps America safe personally, economically, and strategically,” Perry concluded. “The sun will come out, the temperatures will moderate, and this will become part of our rear view mirror.” 

Not every Texan agreed with his assessment. 

Former El Paso congressman Beto O’Rourke, who achieved national renown as a 2018 challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz and was also a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, also accused GOP leadership of leaving Texans to suffer , telling MSNBC: “We are nearing a failed state … and it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters.” 

A former Texas mayor, too, went viral on Wednesday after a Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -0.18% post stating that families waiting for their elected officials to help them during this crisis were “lazy.” He claimed it is not the local government’s job to support the public during trying times like this. “Sink or swim!” wrote Tim Boyd, who has resigned his office. “The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING!”

/zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite
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Volume: 1.31M
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P/E Ratio
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Market Cap
$1535.72 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.35M
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/zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 2,285.88
+20.44 +0.90%
Volume: 1.04M
April 9, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
38.94
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N/A
Market Cap
$1535.72 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.35M
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/zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite
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$ 312.46
-0.56 -0.18%
Volume: 15.99M
April 9, 2021 4:00p
P/E Ratio
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$889.78 billion
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