Pushing jobs plan, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm comes to Texas warning of grid fix

LA PORTE, Texas (KTRK) -- Arriving in LaPorte in a driving rain Friday morning, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm did her best to move past it calling the 'onslaught', "really fun."

Granholm was here to tour an AirLiquide Hydrogen facility, Granholm called part of the energy future and home to high paying energy jobs.

Part of Granholm's mission in Texas is to promote the Biden administration's American Jobs Plan - which she noted neither Texas senator currently supports.

As Granholm spoke, Texas lawmakers in Austin were in their final hours of a legislative session that was supposed to include a fix for the Texas electric grid. Texans hoping for some assurance that the lights would stay on in the cold or the heat or the next storm.

READ ALSO: How the 2021 winter storm happened
EMBED More News Videos

ABC13 Chief Meteorologist Travis Herzog and ABC13 Chief Forecaster David Tillman join Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner and NOAA meteorologist Jeff Evans to explain how the 2021 Winter Storm formed and what this means for the future of Texas weather.



As negotiations in Austin currently stand, there may be money to pay power companies high bills and help weatherize some but not all components of the grid. One sticking point seems to be how much natural gas producers, a key ingredient to produce electricity, would have to protect. The legislative session ends Monday and there's still no agreement.

Secretary Granholm told ABC13's Ted Oberg, "(It would) really be a shame if in fact that is the case. I mean one can hope that there actually is a requirement that Texas weatherize its grid, I would hope that that it would be brought home that we don't want to have people without power in these really extreme weather events in particular."

The American Jobs Plan does include billions to modernize the electric grid across the country. If passed in Washington, it could help Texas make these improvements.

As we all learned in February, Texas is on its own grid.

READ ALSO: Texplainer: Why does Texas have its own power grid?

Granholm told us that she continues to urge Texas grid regulators to create more out-of-state grid connections that could stabilize the grid in times of crisis. She said the most recent was Thursday. Granholm, however, admits she can't force those on Texas and Texas doesn't seem interested.

"Texas has chosen to not connect to the federal government," she said. "So we have no oversight. We have no ability ... they've chosen to be independent. And I have, I continue to say, we would love to extend a hand and, and connect to their, to the rest of the country."

ABC13 spoke with Granholm just before a roundtable discussion at Greentown Labs in midtown Houston. Granholm pointed out Texas leads the nation in wind energy and is No. 2 in solar energy and as part of her visit announced a nearly $2 million in grants to the University of Houston and Rice University to help advance Carbon Dioxide storage and sequestration.

"(Houston) powered the past and we want them to power the future. We want to expand the aperture in terms of the types of energy that Texas is offering, not just to Texas, but maybe even to the rest of the country," Granholm told ABC13. "We want to grow the pie and we want to add clean energy, and we want to be part of that energy future. We want to help the fossil fuel industry to decarbonize energy. One of the things that this American Jobs Plan does is it creates these demonstration projects in what is known as carbon capture and sequestration and hydrogen. Wouldn't it be fantastic if Texas was part of that created a demonstration project about how you can take carbon out of fossil fuels, but still use the fossil fuels? So we want to be a partner."

Follow Ted Oberg on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.