Governor Greg Abbott took to the airwaves late Wednesday, promising action to prevent a repeat of the power crisis that devastated the state.
“Many of you are angry and you have a right to be. I'm angry, too,” said Abbott from the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Austin.
He again pointed a finger squarely at ERCOT for assuring the public Texas would have enough electricity to weather a winter storm.
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“Those assurances turned out to be false. We now know that power generators of all sources were not prepared for this severe winter weather,” said Abbott
But in a teleconference meeting of ERCOT’s board of directors Wednesday morning, ERCOT’s ceo Bill Magness said the storm was simply so massive ERCOT’s weather and power grid modeling could have never have predicted what happened.
“I mean, we saw something here that, you know, outstrips any extreme scenario,” said Magness.
In presentation slides, he showed how the storm brought freezing temperatures to the DFW area for 140 hours. Almost 40 hours longer than the winter storm in February 2011, the previous worst-case scenario used to build the models.
“This is the kind of thing that, you know, moves the goalposts,” said Magness.
His slides showed all types of power plants failed in the cold. At one point almost half of the power units in the state shut down in some cases because of natural gas supply issues.
Even worse, it took days to get many plants that shut down back on-line leaving people freezing in dark homes.
“We regret that this event took the time it did to resolve,” said Magness.
“ERCOT must be overhauled,” said Abbott.
But as the governor called out ERCOT publicly tonight, some lawmakers are warning against quick judgments.
“As soon as you pin the blame on somebody, you're neglecting to look everywhere else and I’m withholding all judgment. That's what these hearings are for,” said Dallas State Senator Nathan Johnson.
Federal and state investigations are just beginning to gather the facts of why so many plants shut down.
ERCOT doesn't have all of those answers because they don't operate the plants - private companies do.
And some at the capitol worry a quick fix law might fail to address what really caused the problems.
“There's a lot of other players in this process, both private and public,” said Johnson.
Abbott said he wants legislation to make sure plants are properly winterized to protect against the cold.
On Thursday, both the Texas House and Senate will hold hearings where lawmakers will press for answers from executives from ERCOT, The Public Utility Commission and private electric and gas companies as they try to get to the bottom of what happened.