BOSTON (CBS) — Brutal cold and a historic winter storm hit Texas hard this week. Millions were without power as Ercot, the Texas grid operator, was left to manage the energy load as natural gas and coal-fired plants went offline.
Now the concern has shifted to water — uninsulated pipes burst in Dallas and Houston. Millions have been advised to boil water — if they have any at all.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
Alicia Barton, CEO of FirstLight Power, the largest producer of clean energy in New England said what happened in Texas has been a disaster on many fronts.
“We have a lot of lessons to learn from this situation. The first and foremost, I think was a failure to plan for future weather conditions. In particular and has been widely covered in media, much of the infrastructure they were relying on to generate electricity really was not winterized for the type of conditions that actually showed up over the past week, ” Barton said.
She told WBZ-TV the failure to plan for the future in a changing climate was central to what we are seeing.READ MORE: 'It's Panic': CareWell Urgent Care Patients Concerned 2nd Vaccine Doses Will Be Canceled
“Our central reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure is really what has caused climate change,” Barton said. “When we look to the future we have to be thinking about building a grid that is both clean and reliable.”
Recent studies have shown that governments and energy providers get more bang for their buck with proactive investment prior to storms, versus during the rebuilding or cleanup process.
“It’s always going to be more cost-effective to plan rather than clean up on the backside, and unfortunately we are going to see the enormous costs in Texas,” Barton said.
FirstLight Power operates a wide portfolio of renewable energy, including a battery storage system at Brandeis University and multiple hydro-plants in western Massachusetts, something Barton describes as a great compliment to variable resources like wind and solar.MORE NEWS: Rep. Pressley, Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition Praise Reggie Lewis Center's Mass Vaccination Site
“We have to look forward, not backward when it comes to embracing solutions to climate change.”