Exploring the Texas power outage, without trying to score political points

If you're having trouble sifting through all the opinion over what went wrong to cause the massive power outages last week, you're in good company.

Overnight, so many people have become 'experts' on what went wrong to plunge the state into the cold and darkness.

A lot of it is about making political points, particularly pitting renewable energy against fossil fuels, and it can be tough to find some useful conversation.

Texplainer: Why does Texas have its own power grid?

Basically, Texas has its own grid to avoid dealing with — you guessed it — the feds. But grid independence has been violated a few times over the years — not even counting Mexico's help during last week's blackouts.

Houston businessman, columnist, and former Houston mayoral candidate Bill King jumped into the conversation, writing about the energy failure, on his online blog.

"I was distressed about this immediate culture-war that started out, and the politicization of the issue, right off the bat," says King.

Like many, he says he wanted to know what went wrong so that we might avoid a repeat.

King's assessment focuses on two weak links:

First, systems that weren't winterized, and failed, in the extreme cold.

"We're, either, going to have to have some regulation that requires some level of sustainability and reliability from these sources," argues King, "If they can't provide that, then I think there needs to be some kind of surcharge that they pay into the system to build that reliability."

Second, he points to the promise of rolling-blackouts that never materialized, because of low power supplies. Some were left in the dark for days while others were minimally affected.

"Because the power got so low, all Centerpoint was getting from ERCOT was just enough to power the critical circuits and nothing else," explains King. "There was no extra leftover to roll-through non-critical circuits."

As power comes back on, Texans wonder how to hold someone responsible for massive outage

Is it possible to sue the state, ERCOT, CenterPoint Energy or Entergy in response to being without power for days?

Finding a 'fix' will be an expensive process.

Former Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says finger-pointing won't help find a solution.

"People can argue over, did the grid go down, or did the power supply go down," says Emmett. "It doesn't matter to the person who's cold and shivering in their house."

But, as some estimates pin Texas storm losses at $50 billion, that King says we can pay now, or later. "My guess is that for the $50 billion it's gonna take to do this, we could have built a much more reliable system and people wouldn't have been through the misery that they went through the last four or five days," he says.

Despite that, King is pessimistic about Texas lawmakers being able to offer any meaningful change.

After Hurricane Ike, in 2008, he was appointed to a governor's commission that sought to minimize storm damage, in the future. Nearly 13 years later, King says little has been done to improve the state's circumstances.

How to give Texas lawmakers a piece of your mind over the winter blackout

Want to give Texas lawmakers a piece of your mind about this week's chaos?