Greg Abbott

Gov. Abbott: Remaining Power Outages in Texas Not Due to Lack of Generation

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said all remaining power outages in the state are due to equipment issues and are not related to a lack of available generation.

Since Wednesday, Abbott said power has been restored to nearly two million homes, but 325,000 people remain without power because of downed lines or lines that need to be manually reconnected to residences.

Abbott warned, however, that temperatures will again drop overnight. He said the Electric Reliability Council of Texas or ERCOT will continue to work to manage the power to ensure it will not go down in residential areas, but that there is still some uncertainty at power generation facilities.

"We hope and anticipate no location will be without power tonight," he said. "The good news is we are starting the evening with every residence in the state of Texas not lacking the generation of power."

The governor said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that the state is focused on restoring power, getting clean water to those without, helping people whose homes are damaged from broken pipes and adding additional warming centers.

Abbott said he was evaluating waivers and executive orders that could be implemented to expedite getting water and power to people.

The state has also submitted a request to President Joe Biden to approve a major disaster declaration, which would allow Texans to apply for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for damage to their homes to the extent that it is not covered by insurance.

Abbott also said the process has begun to reform ERCOT, the agency which oversees the flower of power to the majority of the state.

Meeting records show that five days before the storm hit, ERCOT CEO Bill Magness told the group's board of directors, "We're ready for the frigid temps to come our way."

The governor referenced Magness's words and said ERCOT failed at each measure it said it had undertaken to ensure the state was prepared for the winter storm.

Abbott said he has asked the Texas Legislature to investigate what happened at ERCOT, asked them to mandate the winterization of generators and the power system, and called for the funding for winterization.

ERCOT has come under heavy criticism in the last week after widespread and long-lasting outages have left nearly four million residents in the dark and without heat for days as an unprecedented winter storm swept across the state.

On Monday, the agency directed electric transmission companies such as Oncor to institute outages to protect the state's power grid from uncontrolled statewide blackouts.

Compounding the demand for power, ERCOT said that 40% of the state's generators had been knocked offline. Those generators accounted for 46,000 megawatts — enough energy to power 9.2 million homes.

The outages were intended to cycle between households for short periods of time, but Oncor has said the high amount of load that needed to be shed left them with little room to rotate outages.

"Everyone knows how challenging the past few days have been for our fellow Texans," Abbott said. "I want everyone to know that all of us in the state of Texas believe it is completely unacceptable that you had to endure one minute of the challenge you faced. All of us agree on the necessity of action ... the action to ensure you never have to endure anything like this ever again."

As people grapple with the bitter cold and lack of power, many are also dealing with water shortages as pipes freeze and burst.

Out of the approximately 7,000 drinking water systems across the state, 797 are reporting some sort of issue as a result of lack of power, frozen or broken pipes or high demand, said Toby Baker, the executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Seven hundred and twenty five are under a boil water notice, which impacts 13 million people across the state, he said.

Nim Kidd, the chief of the Texans Division of Emergency Management, said the agency is working with federal, state and local partners to obtain generators and outfit them to institutions that need power, such as nursing homes and hospitals.

They are also working to ensure water and Meals Ready to Eat are distributed, and that food banks and groceries can get access to the resources they need.

To find a local warming center, visit tdem.texas.gov/warm or call 211 for more information.

Abbott said Texans wanting to help may visit FeedingTexas.org or the American Red Cross.

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