AUSTIN, Texas - As thousands of Texans continue to deal with power outages and water shortages, on Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott shared the state’s plans for the present and the future.
"What happened this week to Texans is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again," he said in a briefing at the Alternate State Operations Center in Austin.
The governor outlined five focuses for the days ahead. The first is restoring power to those who still don’t have it. "We’ve had everybody in every agency in the state of Texas who focuses on power working around the clock," he said.
As of Thursday afternoon, Abbott said power had been restored to two million homes across Texas. For the 325,000 residences still without power, the governor said it wasn’t due to lack of supply but rather, broken equipment or fallen power lines.
Along with power, the other four focuses laid out by Abbott were restoring water, getting help to those dealing with broken pipes, getting other aid to those in need, and making sure a similar event doesn’t happen again.
Restoring water will be a longer process because of the widespread impact. Chief Nim Kidd with the Texas Division of Emergency Management said they divide water into three categories: emergency drinking water, industrial and agricultural. He said normally if a water source is compromised there are others nearby that can assist. In this case, everyone was affected.
"With almost every single water institution impacted not only from the frozen lines in our homes but frozen lines in the streets that are running the institutional water, water will continue to be a challenge," said Chief Kidd.
When it comes to future prevention, Abbott said he wants to start with an investigation into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which oversees the power grid.
Abbott said Thursday that just days before Texas got hit with this winter storm, ERCOT leadership assured the public that they were winterizing power plants and were prepared to meet the need.
"ERCOT failed on each of these measures that they said they had undertaken," said Abbott. "Texans deserve answers about why the shortfalls occurred and how they’re going to be corrected, and Texans will get those answers."
Along with investigating ERCOT, going forward, the governor is mandating that power plants be winterized properly, and he is calling for the funding needed for that.
Abbott is also asking President Joe Biden to issue a major disaster declaration for the state as it continues to deal with a power and water crisis.
Officials say energy emergency conditions remain as the grid operator and transmission owners work to restore the remaining customers that are without power.
"We’re to the point in the load restoration where we are allowing transmission owners to bring back any load they can relate to this load shed event," said ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin in a news release. "We will keep working around the clock until every single customer has their power back on."
Additionally, some natural gas produced in Texas is being shipped out of state, but Abbott issued an order Wednesday stopping that. "I have earlier today issued an order effective today through February 21 requiring those producers that have been shipping outside of Texas to instead sell that natural gas to Texas power generators," he said.
Abbott said that not only has Texas not been able to rely on wind and solar energy right now, but some coal, natural gas, and nuclear sources were also shut down because of the winter weather.
In the meantime, TDEM has opened 331 warming centers and plans to open more. They are also actively working to get more water, food, and generators to Texas. To find a warming center, click here. If you’d like to assist in getting food to those in need, click here.