EnergyStatewide NewsElected Officials Blast ERCOT, Abbott for Power Grid ‘Disaster’

A former state senator says the ongoing power outage crisis is entirely the fault of Gov. Greg Abbott.
February 17, 2021
It is only Wednesday and the Lone Star State has experienced a record-setting storm and a historic failure of the power grid, and now current and former elected officials are beginning to sound off on Gov. Greg Abbott and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

Abbott said at about noon on Tuesday that 400,000 more homes have had electricity restored to them and that more should be expected throughout the day. 

He has also announced that addressing the “unacceptable” failures of ERCOT — Texas’ power grid regulator — will be an emergency item during the 87th Legislature.

The governor also reportedly suggested the council’s leadership should resign, according to a local ABC affiliate in Houston.

Some Texas mayors seemed to echo the fears of their constituents while continuing to call for answers from the council.

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Mayor Eric Johnson of Dallas upbraided ERCOT for the power outages.

“I have been as frustrated as everyone else today,” Johnson said on social media on Monday night. “I know this has been extraordinarily difficult. These power outages are unacceptable, and ERCOT needs to answer for them.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reminded residents that the city does not have jurisdiction over the power grid.

“The City does not control the Texas Power Grid. We do not oversee ERCOT which manages and serves as the traffic cop for the electric grid,” Turner said in a Tuesday morning tweet. “That is the Governor and the State of Texas. I know people are angry and frustrated. So am I.”

ERCOT issued a warning that fraudsters are trying to solicit personal information from cold Texans under the guise of trying to restore electricity to their homes.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement on Tuesday that the Senate Business and Commerce Committee will hold hearings as part of an effort “to be sure we are better prepared even if an unprecedented weather event happens again.”

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) also announced that there will be a meeting of the chamber’s State Affairs and Energy Resources Committee to investigate the events that may have led to the power grid’s inability to handle the winter storm.

The mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, backed Phelan’s decision on social media.

“Still no power at my house along with hundreds of thousands of my neighbors,” Nirenberg wrote just before noon on Tuesday. “ERCOT’s systems threw millions to the cold when we needed them most. They must be held accountable. We need to know exactly how Texas ran out of power.”

Former state Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) blamed Abbott for the situation and invited his social media followers to call the governor’s office.

“This disaster is [100 percent] at the feet of [Abbott]. Here’s his office number if you’d like to tell him what it’s like to sit in 40 degree temps,” Huffines wrote on Twitter.

In a similar vein, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, who is a possible Democratic contender for governor, said the situation is “far deadlier due to the inaction & ineptitude of Abbott” and Republicans in state government.

Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) called for the entire leadership of ERCOT to be dismissed.

“After everything that I have heard and read. I think that the CEO & Board @ERCOT should resign or be fired,” Menendez tweeted.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."