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February’s Storm And Outages United Voters Wanting State Action, UT/TT Poll Finds

Texas voters overwhelmingly support requiring energy providers to protect their facilities from bad weather, and a slim majority thinks the government should pay for that weatherization, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Having lived through a statewide winter freeze and electricity outages in February, 84% of Texas voters said those facilities should be weatherized, and 52% said government funds should pay for it.

"The main thing that the Legislature is talking about — weatherization — is the main thing that voters say they should do," said James Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.

Other proposals have strong support: 81% of voters think the members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, the state’s grid manager, should live in the state; 81% said companies and regulators should be required to ensure higher levels of reserve power to meet spikes in demand; 78% want a statewide disaster alert system.

Legislation that does many of those things is still pending as the Legislature enters the last four weeks of its current session. One proposal that has received a lot of attention isn’t at the top of voters’ list: Just under half of the voters would ban services that let residential customers pay wholesale prices that can save money but that also expose them to mind-blowing bills during energy shortages. Only 49% of Texans said they would ban those products.

A plurality of Texans (43%) said the federal government is doing too little to address climate change, while 30% said it’s doing too much and 16% said it’s doing “about enough.” Asked that same question about what the state government is doing, 13% said too much, 43% said not enough, and 27% said “about enough.”

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from April 16-22 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100% because of rounding.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.