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Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to get answers and fix the problems that led to last week’s widespread power outages during a televised speech Wednesday.
“Tragic does not even begin to describe the devastation and the suffering that you have endured over the past week,” Abbott said in the five-minute address. “Too many of you were shivering in your own homes: No power, no heat, no water.”
Millions across Texas went without power as freezing temperatures engulfed the state. Demand for electricity exceeded supply, prompting the outages, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the nonprofit that manages Texas’ power grid.
Abbott acknowledged that many in the state are angry.
“I’m angry too,” Abbott said. “At a time when essential services were needed the most, the system broke.”
Abbott has railed against ERCOT’s response and preparation for the storm. He noted that several ERCOT board members have resigned following reports they lived out of state, but said “more must be done.”
Abbott previously issued three new emergency items for lawmakers to consider: ERCOT reform, mandatory winterization of power generators and funding to support the winterization efforts. Emergency items can be passed sooner than other pieces of legislation.
“Power generation from all sources buckled under the harsh, freezing winter weather,” Abbott said.
Abbott has been criticized for remarks in an interview where he said losses in wind and solar power “thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power in a statewide basis.”
Lawmakers are set to meet Thursday to discuss the severe weather and outages in committee hearings.
“Our task now is to take lessons learned from the past week, as well as the anger that we all feel, and channel them into immediate action,” he said.
Abbott said he’s working with the legislature to add “more power to the grid, and to ensure that we never run out of power again.”
The Office of the Texas Attorney General has also launched a formal investigation into ERCOT, Abbott said.
State Rep. Chris Turner, a Grand Prairie Democrat who serves as House Democratic Caucus, called it “laughable” that Attorney General Ken Paxton is investigating ERCOT after traveling to Utah as Texas responded to the outages and cold weather. Paxton was in Utah with his wife, State Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, to meet with the Utah attorney general, his campaign spokesman told the Dallas Morning News.
The Texas legislature must take the lead on answers and accountability related to the winter storm, because Abbott’s “singular focus on ERCOT, while ignoring the role of the” Public Utility Commission and Railroad Commission “just won’t cut it,” Turner said on Twitter.