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Fort Worth mayor says Texas must answer for power grid failures

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Mayor Betsy Price says state officials will have to provide answers for the failure of the state's power grid during the recent winter storm.

Video Transcript

MARGARET BRENNAN: We think we've worked out that technical issue in Texas and can go now to Betsy Price, who is the mayor of Fort Worth. Good morning to you, Madam Mayor.

BETSY PRICE: Good morning Margaret, let's hope we got this worked out, it's a perfect storm, no pun intended.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm glad we're talking now. Republicans have been in charge of Texas and the energy system by default for years now, after this week's blackouts, what do you think needs to change? Do you trust the state to manage the grid?

BETSY PRICE: Well I think the citizens are depending on their local leaders to insist that we get answers. And we're going to demand those answers at the state, because the state runs the power grid, and we're the ones who dealt with the issues on the ground. So yeah, they're going to have to come up with solid answers and solutions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you believe the state needs to maintain control? I mean I was looking into this, and the majority of our ERCOT board, the energy grid operator, the people on the board don't even live in the state of Texas. Are they in touch at all with what's going on? I mean, what's the problem here?

BETSY PRICE: I certainly hope they're in touch, but it doesn't appear that way. And think that's what surprised more people than anything, is that they are not Texans who have not been living here, most people didn't realize that, including myself. I didn't realize that. And of course now you've had the perfect storm, a statewide storm, that's tested our system. And we just have to-- we went through this 10 years ago, I know Mayor Turner said that, and the solutions were put on the table. But at the time, when Texas was coming out of an economic downturn, and they just didn't want to spend the money to do it. Now our economy is strong, even with COVID, and we're going to have to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The governor has said lawmakers should make sure that Texans themselves don't have to pay for this. But I mean, let's be honest, the bills got to go somewhere. Who do you expect to pay for it?

BETSY PRICE: Well we expect the state to step up and pay it. But of course, the state is taxpayers, you and I, fund government. And that's where it comes from. But the state does have a big rainy day fund and they do have access to other sales tax on things that everybody shares a piece of. They're just going to have to take a real hard look at this, and see what piece gets passed back directly to consumers and what they say pick up on it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you would not support any kind of request to the federal government for increased aid to pick up the bill for this?

BETSY PRICE: I think that we will go to the feds, it'll probably be a partner on this. We'll just have to work through it and see. Right now for me, it's a local level. We're focused on getting water and power back to our citizens, first and foremost. We're not playing politics here, we're in public service and we got to get power, water, and food delivered to our citizens. But we're going to demand answers as we go along with this process.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you need more federal resources right now? I know President Biden has had this major disaster declaration. What do you need?

BETSY PRICE: Well FEMA has been very good about stepping up providing water and some of the services. The state has provided some of the state guard to help us for services. What we're going to need most, it will appear, is probably grants to help people who have broken pipes, whose homes are flooded, my own home is flooded and I'll have insurance to help with that, but many people don't. And so at some point we're going to have to have additional plumbers and resources, but there's going to have to be dollars following that to help these folks who don't have the ability to pay this themselves, and that's going to have to come to a federal government.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you can restart vaccinations when?

BETSY PRICE: We believe will start vaccinations probably tomorrow, at the very latest Tuesday morning early.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, mayor Price, thank you for your time and good luck to you.