87th LegislatureEnergyStatewide NewsAbbott Asks Legislature to ‘Winterize’ Generators for Texas Power System

"Texans deserve answers about why these shortfalls occurred and how they’re going to be corrected, and Texans will get those answers.”
February 18, 2021
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Governor Greg Abbott put new priorities relating to energy reform on the table for the Texas legislature today as the freeze problem evolves from a lack of power to a lack of water.

“We have already begun the process to make sure that events like this never again happen in Texas, and that starts with reforming the agency in charge of electrical reliability in Texas, which is the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT),” Abbott said.

“ERCOT’s annual winter assessment… assured the public that there would be enough power to meet peak demand this winter. ERCOT failed on each of these measures that they said they had undertaken. Texans deserve answers about why these shortfalls occurred and how they’re going to be corrected, and Texans will get those answers.”

Abbott laid out a two-in-one emergency item for the legislature: requiring and funding the upkeep of power generators to withstand severe winter storms.

“First, I’m asking the legislature to mandate the winterization of generators in the power system. Second, I’m calling for the funding needed to ensure this winterization and modernization occurs.”

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His priorities for his own branch of government are fivefold: restoring power, restoring water, assisting with broken pipes, organizing aid to the needy, and reforming ERCOT.

He assured Texans that any ongoing power loss by tonight will be due to damaged lines, not damaged production.

Abbott also said he will apply for a federal disaster declaration for the water problem.

“I am making a formal request of the president for a major disaster declaration,” he said. “If granted, this will give Texans the ability to apply for individual assistance from FEMA.”

According to Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Executive Director Toby Baker, Texas is working with the federal government to distribute and test water. Along with Texas labs, Baker said that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided mobile labs to test water in areas that have been put on a boil notice.

“Out of about 7,000 public drinking water systems, 797 of those water systems are reporting some sort of issue. Currently, about 725 are under a boil notice, and that affects about 13 million Texans,” Baker said.

FEMA has been aiding TDEM efforts to get clean drinking water to every county in the state. According to Kidd, industrial water will pose a taller hurdle that other states will help Texas cross.

“A big challenge will be the industrial water. The place we are right now, with almost every single water institution impacted… water will continue to be a challenge,” Kidd said.

“To meet that challenge, we’re working with our federal partners and our partners with other states. I’ve talked with people from California and Florida today and states in between.”

Abbott encouraged Texans who want to help their neighbors to provide food and work with the Red Cross.

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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.