Texas Gov. Greg Abbott backpedals on power 'guarantee' as state braces for severe winter weather

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott backpedals on power 'guarantee' as state braces for severe winter weather
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in 2016, Wikimedia Commons

As a possible ice storm heads toward the Lone Star State nearly one year after the last winter storm, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is facing criticism for reneging on a promise he recently made to his constituents.

Back in November, Abbott was asked about the state's electrical grid and whether or not it could withstand bitter temperatures following the devasting winter of 2021. He guaranteed the electrical grid would not fail.

"I can guarantee the lights will stay on," Abbott told a KTBC-TV reporter at the time. However, it appears that has changed now. During a press conference on Tuesday, February 1, the Republican governor backpedaled on his promise saying there was a possibility that severe weather could cause power outages.

“Either ice on power lines ... could cause a power line to go down, or it could be ice on trees that causes a tree to fall on power lines,” Abbott said.

"No one can guarantee that there won't be a load shed event," Abbott said, according to the Texas Tribune. "But what we will work and strive to achieve — and what we're prepared to achieve — is that the power's going to stay on across the entire state."

Prior to the governor's press conference, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) also released a statement warning of inclement winter weather over the next several days. However, interim ERCOT CEO Brad Jones is confident the grid is better prepared for the winter weather this year. "The Texas electric grid is more prepared for winter operations than ever before," said Jones.

ERCOT's latest statement also follows a previous statement expressing confidence in the state's grid upgrades and new regulation requirements. At the top of the year, Vice President of Grid Planning and Weatherization Woody Rickerson addresses the changes in a press release. “Texans can be confident the electric generation fleet and the grid are winterized and ready to provide power,” Rickerson said.

Despite ERCOT's reassurance, some a still skeptical and bracing for the possibility of a repeat of 2021. In fact, Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who is running against Abbott in the Texas governor's race, expressed his concern and frustration with Abbott's leadership following the winter crisis last year. O'Rourke also noted that he believes the governor has failed to prepare for this winter season even after all that transpired last year.

"Governor Abbott was warned repeatedly after grid failures in 2011 and 2014 that we had serious vulnerabilities," O'Rourke told KVUE Monday. "He didn't listen to the experts and has failed to do anything since the collapse last February."

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