Criminally Negligent Homicide?
My research into the Texas grid Collapse of February of 2021 has uncovered facts and circumstances which, upon further investigation by law enforcement officials, could lead to probable cause of Criminally Negligent Homicide in the deaths of over 200 people in Texas resulting from this incident.
So far, nobody has been held accountable for these over 200 preventable deaths. It is important for the public to know if any persons or entities caused the deaths of these individuals by criminal negligence.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) as of July 13, 2021 there were 210 deaths in Texas attributed to the 2021 winter storm in numerous counties (see Exhibit 1). DSHS described the deaths as follows:
“The majority of confirmed deaths were associated with hypothermia. There have also been multiple deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, exacerbation of chronic illness, falls, and fire. Confirmed deaths occurred between Feb. 11 and March 5.”
Hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning as well as exacerbation of chronic illness, falls and fire can all be directly linked to the failure of the electric grid in Texas during February 2021. Had the electric grid not failed, these people would not have died.
On December 31, 2021 the state of Texas provided a detailed update report attributing 246 deaths to the winter storm – the majority attributable to the loss of the electric grid. (See Exhibit 7.)
Upon information and belief, DSHS has additional information including the identities and causes of death for these individuals.
The Criminal Conduct.
The failure of the Texas grid in February of 2021 was at least the fourth in a series of identical incidents which occurred in 1989, 2011, 2014 and 2021. In all four events, the Texas grid failed due to cold weather. However, recommendations from official reports after the 1989, 2011 and 2014 blackouts were not followed and effective extreme weather protections were not implemented. Persons or entities who were involved in some or all of these previous incidents knew or should have known that not fixing the problems that caused the previous blackouts would risk such a blackout happening again, as it did in February of 2021.
According to the Texas Penal Code: “A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.”
And the Texas Penal Code defines Criminally Negligent Homicide as: “A person commits an offense if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence.
And finally, the Texas Penal Code defines “Person” as “an individual or a corporation, association, limited liability company, or other entity or organization governed by the Business Organizations Code.”
Attached as Exhibits are documents uncovered during my investigation, as well as a related complaint I filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). That complaint was denied at the urging of the of the electric utility industry. These documents lay out the facts and the previous recommendations which were ignored by the regulators and the industry. There is a strong case to be made that criminal negligence led to the February 2021 blackout which caused the deaths of over 200 people.
It is not unprecedented for a state to hold violators accountable for such crimes. In June of 2020, PG&E pled guilty to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter in Butte County California for killing people in the 2018 Camp Fire. And PG&E is currently charged with felonies in Shasta County California related to four deaths in connection with the Zogg fire in 2020.
The people of Texas deserve an investigation to make sure that any criminal violators responsible for the 2021 Texas blackout are held accountable.
- Exhibit 1: Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) “Winter Storm-Related Deaths” updated July 13, 2021.
- Exhibit 2: Complaint of Michael Mabee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on the Texas Grid Collapse of 2021
- Exhibit A: ERCOT News Release February 11, 2021
- Exhibit B: ERCOT News Release February 14, 2021
- Exhibit C: ERCOT News Release February 15, 2021
- Exhibit D: Wall Street Journal: “Full Death Toll From Texas Storm Could Take Months to Determine.” February 23, 2021.
- Exhibit E: Joint Staff Report of FERC and NERC: “Outages and Curtailments During the Southwest Cold Weather Event of February 1-5, 2011. Causes and Recommendations.” August 2011.
- Exhibit F: Public Utility Commission of Texas. “Electric Utility Response to the Winter Freeze of December 21 to December 23, 1989. An Evaluation of the Actions Taken by Texas Utilities to Correct Technical Plant Equipment Problems.” November 1990.
- Exhibit G: My analysis of Department of Energy OE-417 Electric Disturbance Report data, 2010-2020.
- Exhibit 3: Motion to Take Official Notice of Government Accountability Office (GAO) report GAO‐21‐346. March 5, 2021.
- Exhibit 4: Motion to Take Official Notice of report of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), published on March 25, 2021.
- Exhibit 5: North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) report: “Polar Vortex Review.” September 2014.
- Exhibit 6: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), and Regional Entity Staff Report: “The February 2021 Cold Weather Outages in Texas and the South Central United States.” November 2021.
- Exhibit 7: Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). “February 2021 Winter Storm-Related Deaths – Texas.” December 31, 2021.
 Texas Penal Code, Title 2, Sec. 6.03(d).
 Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Sec. 19.05(a).
 Texas Penal Code, Title 1, Sec. 1.07(a)(38)