Lt. governor tells Texans not to panic as hearings are coming

Michael Bauer, Odessa American, Texas
·4 min read

Feb. 22—MIDLAND Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is urging Texans not to panic over high electric bills and to remain calm as officials investigate what led to massive power outages across the state during last week's historic storm that plunged most of Texas into freezing temps.

Next steps for Texas, he said, cleanup and the process of investigating all that went wrong during in the past week, Patrick says that as far as energy bills go, people shouldn't freak out. He spoke at a press briefing Monday afternoon at the Signature Flight Support Lobby at Midland International Airport.

"Right now, we don't want people to panic about their energy bills," Patrick said. "We'll figure that out. Number two, a couple of lessons here and everywhere I go, I hear people saying 'maybe I should've bought that $500 generator and have a few gallons of gas in my tank but we shouldn't have to rely on generators to provide heat and phones and internet. They're going to have to contact their local officials and gather up who needs help. The governor is asking the president for more help."

Patrick described the events last week as "a perfect storm of a lot of factors."

He said they hope to get answers later this week during hearings to find answers to the power failures that left some in Texas without gas, water or electricity for days as temps plummeted.

"But here's the bottom line, we're going to get a lot more answers to all these questions starting with Thursday and Friday in our investigative hearings," Patrick said. "There are no excuses. People don't want excuses but we want them to understand in part what has happened. These hearings' purposes are to find out what happened so that we can fix what happened so that it never happens again."

As far as the costs of high electric bills go, Patrick said they don't have an answer yet but that they would work on a solution.

"People have been hit with big bills," Patrick said. "Don't panic. We're working on that issue. I don't know how we're going to address that at the end of the day but do not panic. We're going to figure out a solution. That's all I can say today because we have to work through this."

He was adamant during the press briefing that he would give the public assurance that they would address the issue of high electric bills.

"Today, I can give them this assurance, we're going to do everything we can to address that," Patrick said. "My goal and I can't speak for all the senators but my goal is to make sure that we address that. I'm just saying don't worry about that today. We're not going to unplug anybody's power. Don't freak about it."

State Senator Kel Seliger, who represents District 31, was also present at the press briefing as well and said they were not going to sit and point fingers as they look to see what steps should've been taken after the 2011 winter storm 10 years ago.

"We're going to have hearings and we're going to find out who wasn't ready and who should've taken the steps after 2011 and then didn't in 2021," Seliger said. "What should that legislation look like? We need to answer that."

>> DISASTER DECLARATION: On Saturday, President Joe Biden declared a major disaster declaration for only 77 of the 254 total counties in the state of Texas.

Ector County was not one of the counties in that declaration.

While it's unclear if Ector County will be added, Patrick said he was "disappointed that the feds only declared the 77 of our 254 counties to be emergency areas."

On Monday, U.S. Rep.'s August Pfluger and Henry Cuellar led a bi-partisan group of 27 members of the Texas Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to president Biden, asking him to immediately approve the Individual Assistance Program for all 254 counties in Texas.

"We fear that your initial Federal Emergency Management agency (FEMA) declaration falls far short of the actual needs of our state and request the immediate approval of all 254 Texas Counties for individual assistance," members wrote in the letter.