Gov. Abbott: Blame outages on power generators

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Who's to blame for power outage? Here's Abbott's answer
Who's to blame for massive power outage caused by a historic winter storm across Texas? We asked Gov. Greg Abbott and here's his response.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Governor Greg Abbott says the massive outages leaving millions in the dark Monday were caused by private power companies that "fell short," calling it the winter version of "Hurricane Harvey."

"The people who have fallen short with regard to the power are the private power generation companies," Abbott said.

In a call with ABC13, Abbott expressed frustration that power generators hadn't done enough to ensure the flow of electricity would continue.

"There's a separate part of the system that is not working right now, and those are the private companies that generate the power that goes into ERCOT. And it's those private companies that generate power that are not working," Abbott said. "They were working up until about midnight last night, but after midnight, some of them literally froze up, and were incapable of providing power, and some are still incapable of providing power."

Abbott promised that power would begin to be restored to about 200,000 residential customers as power plants begin coming back online after the winter storm that paralyzed the state left families desperate for power during the bitter cold.

After a cold event in 2011 that took power offline, power generators claim they did a better job of "winterizing" power plants, but Abbott says it didn't go far enough.

"I think after what happened in 2011, an assessment was not made to gauge for this type of event, because the last time we had this type of weather was more than 100 years ago," Abbott said. "We need to calibrate for this type of weather to make sure that the companies that are contracted with to provide the power generation in the state of Texas are going to be capable of providing power generation in these ultra cold temperatures."

The state legislature will likely look into if the state needs a backup system, Abbott said.

Grid managers declared an emergency Monday morning after the record-breaking energy use strained utilities beyond capacity. Texas' power grid experienced a systemwide failure as demand surged due to the historic winter conditions across the state.

Outages across Texas could last for hours, even stretching into days, due to multiple power generation plants that are offline, according to officials. An estimated 75% of the state's power generation capacity is impacted.

Earlier in the afternoon, Abbott tweeted that the Texas power grid had not been compromised.

Abbott added in a statement that the state of Texas is deploying maximum resources to local officials throughout the state to respond to severe winter weather and to restore power to our communities. State agencies are sending resources and personnel to help local officials clear roadways and to assist essential workers, such as healthcare professionals and power grid workers, in carrying out their essential duties.

Abbott and the Texas Military Department also deployed the National Guard across Texas to conduct welfare checks and to assist local authorities in transitioning Texans in need to one of the 135 state warming centers.

On Sunday, Abbott sought and received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Energy that allows Texas power generators to increase production. Unfortunately, some of those generators are unable to increase production at this time because their operations have been frozen by weather conditions. They are working to get their power production back on line.

"Due to the severe weather and freezing temperatures across our state, many power companies have been unable to generate power, whether it's from coal, natural gas, or wind power," said the governor. "ERCOT and the PUC are working non-stop to restore power supply. The state has also deployed resources to assist Texans without power and to help essential workers continue to carry out their jobs. In the meantime, I encourage all Texans to continue to stay off the roads, and conserve energy as state agencies work with private providers to restore power as quickly as possible."

Previously, Abbott issued a disaster declaration in all 254 counties, deployed resources throughout the state, and ordered the Texas State Operations Center (SOC) to expand its daily operations to 24-hours a day.

He also previously requested a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas in response to the severe winter weather, which was granted by the Biden administration.