In the midst of a severe winter storm that has ravaged Texans statewide this week, Gov. Greg Abbott gave another update on Thursday.
His press conference revealed the amount of Texans still without power, as well as ongoing water distribution problems from infrastructure challenges coupled with the ongoing severe weather.
He also used the opportunity to blame the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) yet again for the outages that left millions without power during the statewide cold weather snap. Abbott mentioned ERCOT themselves had indicated they were appropriately prepared for winter weather just five days earlier, when they submitted a report.
Abbott followed this by adding to his growing list of priorities and emergency items for legislators during the ongoing 87th Legislative Session. He implored lawmakers to “mandate winterization of generators in the power system” and is “calling for the funding needed to ensure that this gets done.”
He indicated he had already talked with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker of the House Dade Phelan about these additional priorities, as well as the committee chairmen these bills would go through to ensure they are done.
These chairmen include State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R–North Richland Hills), chairman of the Senate Business & Commerce Committee, as well as State Reps. Craig Goldman (R–Ft. Worth) and Chris Paddie (R–Marshall), who chair the House Energy Resources Committee and House State Affairs Committee, respectively.
Somewhat perplexingly, in response to a question at the end of the press conference, Abbott said, “I’m taking responsibility for the current status of ERCOT,” even though he laid much of the blame at their feet just minutes before.
This follows another added priority Abbott gave on Tuesday, when he called on the Legislature to reform ERCOT. He clarified this today as restructuring “the way the board of ERCOT works and to restructure the membership of the board to make sure the membership is responsive to Texans.”
Ahead of the press conference, Speaker Phelan called on the House State Affairs Committee and the House Energy Resources Committee to hold a joint investigative hearing, currently scheduled for next week, where they will specifically discuss the contributing factors to statewide power blackouts and the response.
Will the legislative response address the problem or just the symptoms? What does an appropriate legislative response look like, if one is needed at all?
Thus far, the Legislature has given tax incentives to “green energy” producers, which were the first to fail during this entire ordeal. Have they learned a lesson from that?